Save water, help save wildlife, help save our planet through sustainable gardening
by Nur AP Abdullah & Kane Haggart
Human Impact on the Natural World
The importance of flora and fauna biodiversity has been given greater emphasis now more than ever, especially with the growing concern of more new diseases emerging due to our increased contact with the natural word for urban development and agriculture.
Agriculture is known to be a major contributor in affecting climate, wildlife ecosystems and habitats. Fertilisers and chemicals used to grow crops add to our carbon footprint and harm soils which is not sustainable. Industrial farming also involves clearing delicate wildlife habitats such as rainforests to gain access to fertile soils and vegetation to graze livestock.
Global warming generates various challenges for wildlife, one of which is forest fires. In Australia last year, there was a 14% increase in threatened species with 800 native species becoming ‘critical’.
Bees and many other insects are pollinators for a lot of our vegetables and fruit trees and their survival is crucial for food production. They, like many other animals, are in decline, so it is important we make every effort to regenerate their habitats and food sources.
The good news is you can make a difference in your garden! It is estimated there are 433,000 hectares of greenspace in UK gardens combined. This is a great opportunity to create food and habitats to help wildlife.
How can you contribute?
Sustainable Watering Methods
Summers are getting longer whilst spring and autumn are getting shorter in the northern hemisphere due to global warming. According to Science News, summer may last half a year by 2100. Therefore, spring is a perfect time to start planning for summer. With temperatures predicted to soar, water restrictions are likely, so watering sustainably utilising good water catchment equipment is vital. It is also a good idea to invest in drip-irrigation to avoid wastage through water run-off and reduce your time watering so you can spend more time enjoying the garden.
Increasing bees and butterfly populations
Plants are key for attracting bees and butterflies to the garden as they can provide an excellent source of food and water. As well as nectar from flowers, studies have shown that guttation (the secretion of water droplets from the pores of plants) is an important supply of both water and nutrients to our garden insects.
You can also buy or make insect or bee hotels by stacking hollow tubes on top of each other. These habitats should be placed in a south facing positions, away from direct sunlight. For the garden, you can create beds of native wildflowers or choose from the following list of plants: Foxgloves, Honeysuckle, Penstemon, Snapdragons, Lavender, Allium, Buddleia, Catmint, winter Honeysuckle, winter Clematis, Bluebell, Crocus, Forget-me-not, Primrose, Pulmonaria, Rosemary, Campanula, Delphinium, Geranium, Hollyhock, Potentilla, Stachys, Thyme and Verbascum to name but a few.
Birds and other wildlife
Hedges are a haven for wildlife, especially birds. Apart from creating beautiful borders, hedges can also provide shelter and food. The interaction between the environment, plants and wildlife will have a positive impact on our environment and livelihood, no matter how small the garden is. Plants that make excellence hedges include Taxus sp., Fagus sp. and Carpinus sp.
Ladybirds are excellent predators for aphids. They lay their eggs on aphid colonies where aphids fall prey to their larvae. Plants that attract ladybirds are usually ones with flat top inflorescences like Fennel, Chives, Dill and Cosmos.
Frogs and pondlife
A pond is usually heaven for frogs and many insects. Not only does it increase the aesthetic value of the garden, but also provides shelter, water and food for wildlife. Provide the pond with water loving plants such as Gunnera, Astilbe, Hosta, Leycesteria, Astrantia, Iris sibirica, Helenium, Hydrangea, Dicentra, Molinia, Persicaria, Cornus sibirica, Rodgersia, and Lythrum.
Having slug infestations and want to protect your precious Hosta? Then encourage hedgehogs into your garden by providing a small den or house, tucked away under a shaded area or hedges.
The Wildlife Trust (www.wildlifetrusts.org) has great tips to help you and your family help nature.