If you wish to create a haven for you and wildlife, then our top tips for green gardening are for you.
A lawn with a patio used to be the traditional option for outdoor spaces but there are so many other alternatives that will attract wildlife, grow food and ensure your garden blooms. These do not have to be expensive but just require a little imagination.
Garden Design: How to Make the Most of Your Garden
Garden design is the plan of how to make the most of your garden. In the UK, we are a nation of gardeners. The popularity of historic gardens such as Kew Gardens in London and events like the Hampton Court and Chelsea Flower shows are testament to how much affection we have for gardens.
But you don't have to attend the big shows to find inspiration. Thanks to garden centres and DIY stores we can stamp our own identity on any garden space. Garden design provides an opportunity to incorporate our style preferences. Including favourites such as ornamental trees, decking, swing chairs, solar fairy lights and even water features.
Gardens are the perfect refuge from a hectic world. They come in all shapes and sizes. From landscaped gardens featuring beautiful flowers, green lawns, colourful shrubs and fruit-bearing trees, to well-tended areas of lawns and flower beds outside suburban homes, even allotments and window boxes.
They're the ideal space to enjoy the outdoors at home, a place to show the beauty of nature and with a little planning, provide a home for wildlife. At the same time, they create a beautiful sanctuary to enjoy and relax.
Finding animals in your garden is always a pleasure (unless they are giant slugs). Bird watching is one of the favourite past times in the UK and that's before we include other animal enthusiasts.
Eco Friendly Gardens to Attract Wildlife
Eco-friendly gardens aim to encourage as much wildlife as possible, reduce the amount of chemicals used such as pesticides and, where possible, grow nutritious organic food.
You can encourage wildlife into your garden by providing water, shelter and food (in the form of nectar rich flowers for butterflies, moths, bees and other insects).
If you are looking for specific plants and flowers to attract birds and wildlife there are lots of guides available, including from the Wildlife Trusts.
The RSPB provides a comprehensive guide on what food is suitable for what type of birds including, bird seed and cake, cereals, cooked rice, uncooked porridge and coconut to name just a few varieties.
Save the Bees
Bees are essential for pollinating flowers and food. However, bees are in danger from a loss of habitat and chemicals that are reducing their population numbers. If you are looking for flowers that bees are attracted to or want to help save bees there are starter kits and lots of excellent tips on the Friends of the Earth website.
Ponds for Water and Refuge
Ponds provide wonderful refuge for animals and are a source of drinking water for birds and animals. Ponds are excellent as they help animals survive and thrive in hot summers as well as increase the amount of wildlife that visits your garden.
Ponds can be created in any shape or size and there are plenty of websites that outline how to design and install a pond for your needs and available space. If you only have a small garden any water can help. Even old bowls can be adapted to provide habitats for wildlife.
If you have a garden pond or water in the garden and young children, always take safety measures to avoid drowning as recommended by RoSPA.
Growing Your Own Food
The appeal of an edible garden is growing. Having the ability to pick your own fruit and veg throughout the summer and autumn is a cheap and enjoyable way to feed a family. From window boxes to allotments, from potatoes and tomatoes to raspberries and rhubarb, there is real boom in home grown food.
Home grown food is often organic, fresh and therefore tasty. Gardening is good for the soul, especially when the fruits of your labour are literally your dinner.
Someone with no experience at all can start on a new journey of creating edible gardens. Seed packs (and bulbs) offer guides for planting. Of course, there are plenty of guides for beginners on starting a vegetable garden, here's one from The Telegraph:
Even if you aren't growing your own food, eating local food is a great choice for the environment.
If you are looking for ideas for food to grow in small gardens, try herbs in pots, tubs or planters. Think about using recycled furniture as larger containers and fill with soil to sow seeds and larger plants.
Planting tomatoes is also very popular, as they can be left in a sunny window to thrive. The top ten tips for growing tomatoes by Welsh internet sensation, Huw Richards, was watched by nearly a million people!
Add Sparkle to Your Garden with Solar Lighting
Strings of solar fairy lights add instant magic to any garden providing mystical, atmospheric lighting without the need for complex wiring. Wrapped around fence posts, furniture, trees or shrubs they provide a way of lighting your garden from the power of the sun.
Solar lights are not connected to mains electricity, so they are extremely flexible and can be hung anywhere that suits. They are a fantastic way to support renewable energy in your home. And the best part is they do not contribute to air pollution as no fossil fuels were burnt to make your garden twinkle!
Most solar lights use light emitting diodes (LED) so they use very little energy to provide a lot of light. There are solar post lights for paths and solar spot lights available for more direct lighting needs. Again, these don't need complex wiring to the mains electricity, so they are easily fitted where needed and are powered by the daylight combined with small batteries.
If you are a fan of solar power, then it is also worth considering solar panels on your roof or garage to generate even more green energy for your home.
Gardening and British Weather
The British weather is famous for varying from one day to the next and gardeners adapt their plans to fit around the forecast. However, there are greater changes happening now due to climate change. Gardens are put under increased stress due to the extremes of downpours and droughts. However, with careful planning some of the worst impacts can be avoided.
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