With the first signs of industrialization, nature became the victim of advancements and improvements which led to modern life as we know it today. And subsequently, the whole world started to deteriorate and now we stand in front of a major global climate catastrophe, one which has already begun to unfold and can only be stopped if we all work together. Due to the ever-present pollution, as well as man-made structures such as roads and factories, the natural habitats of many animals and plants have been destroyed.
For example, one of the most pressing and highlighted issues has been the extinction of bees, and most notably the constant annual decline of their numbers since the colony collapse disorder in 2007 in the US alone. Also, wild bees are in more danger since 1945 and urbanization when 97% of meadows were transformed in the UK and of 24 species of bumblebees, only eight stayed strong. The global condition of the bumblebees is also not great and the IUCN considers them to be at risk of extinction.
Just like bees, there is other wildlife important to preserving our environment and saving life on Earth. And the most interesting thing about it is that we can all participate in this significant and important endeavour by just being responsible gardeners.
Deciding on the right flowers
When it comes to creating a wildlife haven, you have to carefully choose the flower species you’re going to plant. Some experts suggest planting only the specious indigenous to your region and even neighbourhood, since that will attract the insects unique to that terrain.
Plants that provide pollen and nectar are the ones that will attract natural pollinators like bees and butterflies and keep the circle of life going. It is important to know your plants and make sure that the ones you use actually attract pollinators and don’t only serve as breeding grounds for the insects.
When you decide upon the flower, examine the number of petals. The more petals they have the less nectar and pollen they will provide. Marigolds, cornflowers and nasturtiums are okay to grow, as are the usual perennials. But if you have trouble recognizing the appropriate flower species, consult the local gardeners’ association or nature preservation society. They may also have some useful pointers and advice on creating a wildlife-friendly garden.
Choose the variety of trees
Trees are homes for a variety of wildlife species. They offer perfect shelter and nesting places, as well as fruits, seeds and flowers to feed all sorts of animals. If you have an old tree in your garden or neighbourhood, make sure that it’s well taken care of and always protected from diseases and damage.
On the other hand, a lack of trees is not good for the wildlife even if you have lavish gardens since it will miss the protection and resting place of the treetop and trunk, so make sure you plant some seedlings wherever you can. Also, fruit trees are especially beneficial to the ecosystem since they feed not only the animals but also supply you with crops.
Try the shrubs
Edible shrubs like gooseberry, redcurrant and blackberry are the perfect choices for wildlife-friendly gardens. These plants are the perfect food for the pollinators and will give texture to the garden’s look, not to mention that they are great for pies and healthy snacks.
Small tree-like shrubs, like rowan, blackthorn and hawthorn are also good for both blossoms and berries, and are considered to be not only a significant source of nutrition but also give cover to insects and other larger animals. Even flowery shrubs, ivy and bushes are good as habitats if you keep them in shape and don’t let them take over your garden.
Create a pond
Take a shovel and dig a hole. Then put a pot or basin inside and fill it with water. This will add a pond to your garden and also be a great environment for amphibians and fish. Make sure you design an area that is shallow since newts and frogs need lower water levels. And also create a path for the animals to get in and out of the pond more easily.
Water plants will keep the water clean and allow for even more wildlife to inhabit your garden. The most obvious benefit of the pond, however, is that it will be a water source, so make sure you build it in a partly shaded spot so the water doesn’t get too heated by the sun.
Guard the birds
There is something magical in birdsong in the spring mornings and their chatter during the day. But even though they fly, birds need protection from predators and harsh weather. Build feeders and boxes for them, and make sure that they always have food and a clean place to stay.
You can build the feeders near bushes like the rambling rose, which will allow the small birds to feed safely away from cats. Also, choosing the proper food such as seeds in the winter and fat balls for the younglings in spring will help you keep the bird population strong and thriving even during periods when natural food for birds is scarce.
Let nature take over your lawn
Lawns are the most popular form of gardening there is and a neatly mowed lawn can say a lot about a house but can do little for wildlife preservation and saving the environment. So try some great landscape design ideas for turning your lawn into a meadow and thus creating the perfect home for a variety of species.
Leave your grass to grow since the long plants are perfect places for butterflies to lay their eggs. Scatter the seeds of various wildflowers such as poppies, corn marigolds, buttercups and ragged robin, as well as grasses like yellow rattle all over the lawn and create your own meadowland.
When someone mentions weeds, we automatically think it is bad for the garden because those plants are parasitic and destroy the soil for others. But actually, there are certain plants categorized as weeds which are natural pollinators, like buttercups and daisies.
These plants are rich in nectar and can withstand harsh environments, and you can usually see them on the big park lawns and meadows. You probably weaved a wreath out of them when you were a kid and didn’t know how important they were. So let your garden be a little messy and it will become the perfect shelter for the spiders and earwigs which feed on the plant lice and keep their numbers in check.
John Muir or John of the Mountains, a Scottish-American naturalist said: “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” This is something we all should bear in mind when we look at the green valleys and admire the wildflowers, or when we enjoy birdsong and a butterfly’s flight.
We can all follow the example of the Netherlands which has around 25 wildlife-friendly gardens and also one of the biggest and oldest ones in the world, the Thijsse’s Hof dating to 1925 and being home to more than 800 plants and animals.
This is the perfect example that if we put our effort into something, we can achieve important and huge things, which can change life on Earth for the better for all species, not only humans.