Rewilding an Urban Garden
We've been reading Isabella Tree's The Book of Wilding (ISBN-10 : 1526659298 published by Bloomsbury Publishing (11 May 2023)) which is very inspiring.
One aspect of the book shows how it is possible to transform a conventional urban garden into a garden which is truly welcoming for wildlife. Below is mostly cribbed from the book to hopefully also inspire you.
Conventional Urban Garden
Here is a typical garden. It is manicured with a monoculture lawn. The garden is kept pristine with herbicides and pesticides.
A sterile concrete patio provides little chance for life in the garden. Flower beds are rigorously weeded with bare earth between the plants which dry out in the sun. A petrol-powered leaf blower rids the garden of natural compost, a petrol or electric mower makes the striped lawn, and artificial lights flood the area at night which disturb the bats and magnetises the moths.
Nature Friendly Garden
Going pesticide free brings insects back into the garden. The organic lawn, mown less often, is rich in wildflowers. Longer patches of grass give cover to small mammals and insects. Replacement of tanalised wooded fences with species rich hedges provide nesting habitat for birds.
A dead tree, trimmed for safety, is left in situ for deadwood-loving beetles and woodpeckers. Its branches, stacked beside a leafy compost pile, gives shelter to hedgehogs and insects. LED fairy lights are less disruptive and minimise the challenge to bats and moths. A small pond is a honeypot for dragonflies, frogs and newts. The mown path through the longer grass creates a circular walk of interest, intrigue and pleasure.
Here, hedges trimmed less frequently have grown shaggy and complex, providing protective niches and berries for birds, small mammals and insects. Fallen fruit and seedheads are left. Greater areas of long grass and wildflowers create cover for voles, field mice and hedgehogs. These will be mown or scythed at the end of the summer. Ivy and scramblers climb the walls and roof of the garden shed. A bee hive provides a welcoming home for our bee friends. Sandy patches are havens for burrowing bees and beetles, and ants and amphibians find refuge under the wet patch stepping stones. The end of the garden is made porous for wildlife.
This rich, complex treasure trove of a garden is perfect for hide and seek and building dens, or for adults, sitting in a quiet corner, listening to life. With no light disturbance, the garden at night is filled with bats and moths.