Your Wildlife Haven – doing your bit
I hope you are all enjoying the warmer weather and our increasing freedom from COVID restrictions. I’m
loving spending more time outdoors, doing things around the garden, and then observing with pride
what I have accomplished. However, one thing I haven’t been doing much of this year is mowing the
lawn. At the time of writing, I am embarking on a challenge to not mow the complete lawn through the
summer months. The reason behind this is to provide a banquet for the bees, butterflies and other
wildlife to feast and thrive on. I have mowed a couple of winding footpaths in the lawn as some wildlife
still need short grass. Its great watching the blackbirds run up and down these ‘highways’ looking for
worms. I’m also looking at other ways to garden more sustainably so that I don’t undo the positive
environmental impact of gardening.
The collective area of our gardens is greater than that of all the nature reserves in UK, so our gardens can
have a massive contribution to our wildlife and biodiversity. As well as providing a sanctuary for wildlife,
the way we garden can also have an impact on carbon emissions and water use. Soil is a huge carbon
store, so disturbing the soil as little as possible (the principle behind no-dig gardening) reduces the
release of carbon into the atmosphere. Also, being less tidy in the garden overall provides shelter and
nourishment for wildlife – perfect for those gardeners who are short on time! This has encouraged a daily
evening visit from a hedgehog which I feed dry kitten cat food and a saucer of fresh water (no milk, fancy
hedgehog food is also not needed).
Here is a list of things that can help your garden have a positive impact on the environment:
 Mow less frequently, and leave some areas of grass to grow long and go wild
o To increase the biodiversity on your lawn and also lower carbon emissions from mowing
(one hour mowing with a petrol mower is as polluting as driving 93 miles in a car)

 Choose peat-free compost and buy plants grown in peat-free compost
o Peat bogs are a major carbon store and digging them up to use peat in compost releases
huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere
 Encourage pollinators by growing native plants
 Go organic, using natural pest control and fertilizers instead of harmful pesticides that can kill
vital pollinators
 Create a wildlife area
o A pile of sticks, leaves or other garden trimmings left in a corner can provide shelter for
all sorts of wildlife
o Even a tiny pond will welcome a wider variety of species to your garden (remember to
include sloping sides or stones to help hedgehogs to climb out)

 Contribute to a hedgehog highway
o Make holes at the base of your fences to allow hedgehogs to roam from garden to
garden – they have a large territory
 Provide food and water for birds
 Try growing your own vegetables
o Even a pot of your favourite herb to get started helps with reducing food miles and
plastic waste

 Recycle rainwater using a water butt
o I also use half-drunk water bottles to water plants
 Embrace the weeds and a lazier approach to gardening in general
o Dandelions get a bad press but they are a vital early source of nectar for bees
If we all allowed some or part of our lawns to grow un-mowed over the summer months just think
collectively what a huge area this would cover. We can then sit back and watch as wildlife makes a
comeback knowing we have contributed. So put the mower away, relax and be entertained, the wildlife
will thank you for it.

For more information on creating your own wildlife haven please visit https://www.plantlife.org.uk/ and
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/nine-ways-to-build-a-wildlife-friendly-garden
If you’d like to know more about low carbon gardening, there’s some great advice from gardening
journalist and author Sally Nex at https://sallynex.com/home/.
Leonie Beale and Clare Slater
Members of Climate Action – West Northamptonshire (Facebook: @climateactionwestnorthants)
Sustainable-ish Ambassador for Northampton
https://www.facebook.com/groups/sustainableish.northampton/about/