How to Start Designing Your Garden for Wildlife 

Written by Ollie Wilkinson

Designing your garden for wildlife and insects is like having your own outdoor Airbnb, only with less cleaning. Oh, and your guests are a little hairier and may come with antennae. 

A rewilded garden is a great way to connect with nature, without climbing a mountain or freezing your gonads off in a lake. And it has countless benefits for local critters, creatures and creepy-crawlies. Everyone’s a winner! 

If you’d like more birdsong, butterflies and buzzing bees and less lawnmowing and weeding in your life, put away the sheers and shovels, retire the rake, and embrace the wild with our wildlife gardening ideas!  

What is wildlife gardening?  

A wild garden is an outdoor space intentionally designed to support native wildlife. Sustainable and awesome for the environment, wildlife gardens hand the land back to the plants and creatures that would be chilling on it if not for your house and residency. 

Mother Nature did just fine without us, and wild gardening is our way of handing back the reins and letting her do what she does best. 

What is a natural garden? 

A natural garden is created to look and work like a natural ecosystem, attracting insects, amphibians, mammals and birds using: 

  • • Native plants 
  • • Water features 
  • • Food resources 
  • • Shelters 

Why is wildlife gardening important? 

Wildlife gardening is important for many reasons. It can: 

  1. 1. Provide food and shelter for wildlife 
  1. 2. Help to conserve energy and resources 
  1. 3. Create habitats for pollinators and other beneficial insects 
  1. 4. Mitigate the effects of climate change with green spaces and air-cooling vegetation. 
  1. 5. Help us deal with eco-anxiety 

According to the Mental Health Foundation, connecting with nature generates calmness, joy and creativity, as well as increased concentration levels. These positive emotions help us handle eco-anxiety, so it’s not just local wildlife and vegetation that benefits. You scratch Mother Nature’s hand, she’ll scratch yours!  

How do I rewild my garden and make it good for wildlife? 

Now we’re talkin’! There are dozens of things you can do to help wildlife thrive in your garden; here are a few of our favourite quick rewilding wins: 

  1. 1. Plant native shrubs, trees and flowers. Plants that grow and exist naturally within your region are important, because they have evolved over time to fit within set ecosystems, providing food and shelter for local wildlife. 
  1. 2. Build a pond for your garden. Water features welcome frogs and toads, which are a key part of the food chain as they control insect populations and feed on potential disease carriers. Ponds can also attract birds and other amphibians, giving them food, shelter and habitats. 
  1. 3. Stop using pesticides. Restoring the balance between us and nature helps natural food chains return. Frogs and birds will become your new pest controllers, therefore reducing your reliance on toxic, poisonous pesticides, which damage the biodiversity of the soil. 
  1. 4. Welcome everybody to the wild, wild nest. Providing nesting boxes and roosting sites for birds will help them control your bug population and spread native seeds across your garden. 
  1. 5. Build a bug hotel. It’s important to give insects shelter; they’ll return the favour by pollinating your wildflowers. 
  1. Install birdfeeders. Become the Modern Milkman of the bird world, by delivering snacks and treats to their doorstep! This will help maintain and support native bird populations. 
  1. 7. Release the weeds! Weeding is a real pain in the backside. And the knees. And the fingers. But the good news is, you don’t have to do it! Weeds count as native plants and are tasty snacks and cosy shelters for caterpillars and other insects.  

Wildlife friendly gardens are a lazy gardener’s dream, because to be honest, one of the best tips we can offer is: do nothing. Rewilding your garden is about letting nature run wild, without interference! 

Where should I put a wildlife pond? 

The best place to put a wildlife pond is in a sunny spot in your garden, with a bit of shade so your new guests don’t get too tanned. We also recommend a sloping edge and some rocks or logs, so that animals can easily get in and out. 

Check out our blog to learn how to build a pond for your garden

Is long grass good for wildlife? 

Long grass is GREAT for wildlife! It gives animals food and shelter, while also preserving the energy (and in some cases fuel) needed to mow lawns. Many species – including butterflies, pollinators and small mammals – use long grass to build habitats and breed, away from the threat of predators. 

What are natural plants? 

Natural plants are plants that naturally grow and spread in an area. Over many, many years, these plants have adapted and evolved around the local climate, terrain and wildlife. 

What are the benefits of growing wildflowers? 

Native wildflowers are a perfect source of scran and shelter for your local area’s ecosystems and food chains. Full of pollen, berries and little coves for mice and voles to explore, wildflowers are like nature’s playground and cafeteria. 

Are wildflowers easy to grow? 

Wildflowers are as low maintenance as a pet beanie baby, and require less attention than the Hollyoaks omnibus. Over many years, these flowers have already learned to adapt and self-seed in your local area, which makes it very easy to grow and maintain them. Here are a couple of tips to set you well on your way: 

  1. 1. Plant them where nothing else is growing. Unlike you and those hand-me-down sweaters from your childhood, wildflowers will grow into the space. Wildflowers don’t need much watering or feeding, but they do need space to flourish. 
  1. 2. Whoever sows it mows it. At the end of the season (around September), trim back your wildflower meadow so it’s ready for a new growing cycle next year. This is especially important in the first year, as they always come back stronger! 

When should I cut my rewilded lawn? 

One of the key qualities of a rewilded lawn is that it’s wild. And you know what that means… Limited mowing required! Chore-haters, rejoice! Your to-do list just got one task lighter. You only need to mow your rewilded lawn if it’s getting too overgrown and out of hand. For example, if you have to remove dead grass.  

When trimming your wild lawn, try using a sickle or scythe so that you don’t damage the soil or plants. Bonus tip: if you use a scythe, please don’t wear a black hood or cloak. It’ll scare your elderly neighbours to death. 

What is passive rewilding? 

Passive rewilding is about as low maintenance as it gets. It requires no active intervention whatsoever. No mowing. No trimming. Limited-to-no manmade structures! Passive rewilding is when you allow an area of land to return to its complete natural state, which can obviously take several years! 

Does rewilding help climate change? 

Rewilding cools and clears the air, provides green spaces, and increases biodiversity by saving crucial species. For more information on its positive environmental impact and how it combats climate change, check out our guide: What is rewilding? 

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