Create and enjoy a wildlife-friendly, and sustainable ‘grow your own’ garden

Here are our 8 tips for creating your own wildlife-friendly garden, one in which you could also ‘grow your own’ veg.

BUTTERFLY GARDENS – Who’d like a garden haven for you and the butterflies to enjoy?

  • Choose plants with simple flowers that make it easy for butterflies to reach the nectar. Try to
    provide flowers right through the seasons, such as:
    SPRING – Primrose, cowslip, aubretia – vital for butterflies coming out of hibernation
    SUMMER – buddleia, red valerian, verbena, hebe, knapweed, scabious, lavender, wild majoram
    AUTUMN – Michaelmas daisy, hyssop, iceplant
  • Plant in a sheltered sunny spot.
  • Prolong flowering by deadheading flowers, water well and don’t use insecticides or pesticides.
  • Don’t forget to provide food plants for their caterpillars too.
    More details and inspiration can be found here.


  • Climbing plants on fences and walls make super nesting and roosting sites for birds, and a
    haven for insects. Consider plants like honeysuckle and quince which have nectar-rich flowers
    followed by fruit. Have evergreens too- ivy is great!
  • Hedges provide living space and food for all sorts of wildlife. Good native choices include
    hawthorn, blackthorn, wild rose, holly and hazel. Berberis and pyracantha also produce lots of
    berries for the birds.

Any pond can become a feeding ground for birds, hedgehogs and bats – the best natural
garden pest controllers! Your pond needn’t be big. A washing-up bowl, a large plant pot, or a
disused sink could all be repurposed as ponds, providing you make sure creatures can get in
and out. Click here to find out how to make your pond.

SUSTAINABLE GARDENING is growing food and plants without causing destruction to the
land, air, or water and reducing excess wherever possible. Thinking about how we do things.
Here are key ways to practise sustainable gardening:

  • Avoid chemicals – chemical pesticides harm or kill all they come into contact with, including
    beneficial insects. Consider companion planting to control pests (whats that? click here to find out).
  • Use organic alternatives for fertilisers.
  • Catch rainwater – one primary goal of any sustainable garden is to use less water so install a
    water butt or have a rainwater barrel.
  • Build a compost pile – they reduce food waste by giving scraps a second life, maximizing soil
    nutrients and reducing ecological destruction caused by synthetic fertilisers. More on
    composting later this week.
  • Re-use materials – for containers and veg beds of all types. We’ll be sharing ideas.
  • Plant native species – most likely to require less resources to thrive in our gardens, and will
    encourage pollinating insects.


  • Not started to plant your seeds yet? No need to go out and buy plant pots, get creative and
    use yoghurt pots, empty toilet rolls, ice cream tubs, tetra paks, whatever you can find in your
    house, just remember to make holes in the bottom.
  • Re-use empty compost bags – turn them inside out and they make great liners for veg beds or
    potato growing bags.
  • Upcycle a pallet into a herb garden. Lots of how to videos online.
  • If you need seeds, first only grow what you like and will eat and second check with your
    neighbours or local groups to see if you can seed swap. You can also share spare seedlings
    too. Check out the Feed Leeds Sow a Row Xtra campaign and click on the SowX button – there may be an exchange site near you or you could set one up!

Join legions of gardeners and say “no” to the mow this May to help our bees, butterflies and
wildlife. Plantlife’s #NoMowMay campaign doesn’t ask you to do much. Simply lock up your
lawnmower on 1st May and let the wild flowers in your lawn bloom. At the end of the month, you
can join in their nationwide “Every Flower Counts” survey to discover how many bees the UK’s
lawns can feed. We’d love to see photos of the flowers growing in your lawn.

GO PEAT FREE – Gardeners can play a big part in the fight against climate change. By using
peat-free compost you will be protecting vital habitats and supporting the future of our planet.
Our peatlands are disappearing as they’re being dug up, bagged up and sold as part of garden
Peat takes centuries to form from decayed organic matter. Peat bogs absorb carbon dioxide like
a sponge from the atmosphere so are precious carbon stores. When peat is removed from
bogs, all the carbon dioxide is released back out into the atmosphere. So we need to protect
and preserve our remaining peatlands in the UK and across the globe.
So if you need to buy compost, always buy PEAT-FREE. Read the bags carefully – ‘Peatreduced’ compost can still contain as much as 50% peat. Peat from a ‘sustainable source’ or ‘peat from a renewable source’ are unfortunately not addressing the root of the problem. Let’s all encourage retailers to stop selling peat-based compost, and offer more peat-free options. Our buying choices matter.
Suppliers of compost, some more quickly than others, are adapting and there are several peatfree options available.
Please sign this petition to ban the use of peat in horticultural media.

HOME COMPOSTING – there are so many good reasons to compost waste and you’ll reap the
benefits. The most obvious one is the end product – lovely rich, brown, earthy compost which
when used in the garden puts loads of nutrients and goodness back into the soil. It’s a great
way of sustainable disposing of vegetable peelings too.
We’re in the middle of a climate emergency. Garden waste is heavy and councils use large
vehicles to transport it, creating a lot of emissions. More are produced when the waste is
handled and sorted and then again when the final compost product is delivered. All of this is
reduced by keeping the waste in your garden.
Many people are put off composting, thinking it’s too difficult or results in a smelly mess. But
that’s just not the case, to find out how to start composting at home, visit Zero Waste Leeds’
website for some helpful hints

1 Comment

  1. Barry Riley on May 19, 2021 at 3:51 PM

    Hi Adrian

    The Head of Parks and Countryside at Leeds City Council is

    there is also Darren Gibson who works alongside Simon,



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