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wild flowers in long green grass

Designing naturalistic, biodiverse Yorkshire gardens, part 2

Wildlife friendly gardens

Our series of posts on biodiversity in the garden continues with a look at what further actions we can take to encourage nature within our biodiverse Yorkshire gardens. 

Life is sometimes hectic and we don’t always have lots of time to spend working in the garden so to begin with I would like to start with the easiest things we can do to encourage wildlife and biodiversity.

The first is simple. Stop using pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. Liberally applying poisons to solve perceived problems just doesn’t stack up. Poisons don’t differentiate the wildlife you like from those species you would rather did not live in your garden and so it is essential to avoid their use wherever possible to promote biodiverse Yorkshire gardens. If you are growing something that requires poisons for it to survive the depredations of the local wildlife then you are growing the wrong plant.

Plant selection is therefore vitally important when creating a naturalistically planted wildlife haven – and your options here are to employ a professional garden designer, to investigate yourself, or simply to look at what grows well in your neighbour’s gardens and select the plants that you like to form a palette of plants for your own garden (as you can be confident they will grow and thrive in your soil too).

Of course with plants come weeds – not least because the act of planting disturbs the top layers of soil and releases the seeds that may have been buried for years, allowing them to germinate. You really shouldn’t use herbicides on these as it is unnecessary – and to be rid of them a hoe is the tool for you. Many ‘weeds’ may swamp your plants but this is more often true in newly planted gardens, or where a garden adopts a ‘gardenesque’ style of planting (popularised by the Victorians), where plants are shown off as individual specimens with soil visible between them. However it is a truism that a weed is simply a plant growing where you don’t want it and in many cases a garden can be improved by allowing some naturalism to be adopted in the development of a planting scheme within our biodiverse Yorkshire gardens. It is therefore a case not of having to undertake the chore of weeding for the gardener but rather of gently editing what is there and pulling out anything that is invasive or simply in the wrong place.

Weeds do not always need to be removed though. Personally I am happy to live with moss in the lawn and ivy at the boundaries, although many consider these to be weeds. If moss is growing it is almost always because the ground conditions support its growth – and so if a new lawn is installed it will just lead to a year or two of moss free turf before it reappears. Similarly ivy, particularly under and amongst trees, can cover the ground to prevent other weeds and remain green throughout the dark days of winter. It still needs taming to keep it in check, and prevent more vigorous varieties scrambling into trees, but is a favourite of wildlife.

Finally, the mention of lawns above leads to perhaps the easiest action anyone can take to create a textured series of layers in the garden. Leave an area of grass to grow long and create your own mini-meadow. The UK is ideally positioned to grow grass well (which is why grass seedlings do need to be removed from flowerbeds) and many of our native invertebrate species will find shelter in the longer grass – from ladybirds which eat aphids, the lacewings (whose larvae eat aphids as well), to active hunters like centipedes. For a quick and naturalistic result it is also possible to lay wildflower turf which can look fantastic later in the same year it is laid.

It is therefore the little things that we do that can sometimes makes some of the largest differences for the biodiversity within our gardens, allowing people and nature to coexist harmoniously.

Please get in touch if you think Matt Haddon Gardens can help you to design your garden and create a contemporary space, drawing upon the surrounding landscape for inspiration, and using a naturalistic planting scheme to create a uniquely beautiful and enduing wildlife friendly garden within which people and nature can coexist.

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