15 ways to rewild your garden
The popularity of rewilding is on the rise. And for good reason. Not only will rewilding create a low maintenance, diverse and beautiful garden, but it is great for the environment and ecosystems too.
So, what is rewilding? Basically, it means restoring ecosystems to the point where nature can take care of itself and biodiversity and wildlife are allowed to thrive. If we let it, nature has the power to heal itself - and us.
Even Jeremy Clarkson has got in on the act, rewilding 300 acres of his Diddly Squat Farm. But you don’t need to have a huge amount of land in order to do your bit. Your own garden is the perfect place to start. 22 million of us Brits have access to a garden. All added up, that’s a lot of land and even the smallest of spaces can make a difference to biodiversity. In fact, one of the key benefits of having a network of wild gardens is that wildlife has a much wider overall area to find food and shelter.
You don’t even need to let your whole garden run wild in order to make a difference. You can allocate a patch of lawn to grow or choose a few different scattered areas. Jenny Steel from Wildlife Gardening suggests that it is better to have one or two wild places and then manage the rest of the garden for maximum biodiversity by growing a wide range of plants and providing a range of different habitats.
Look at your garden from nature’s point and view and allow nature to take the lead. Read on for 15 ways to rewild your garden.
Why is rewilding important?
Rewilding can help reverse species extinction, tackle climate change and improve your overall health and wellbeing.
In Britain, more than half of our species are in decline and 15% are threatened with extinction. We have already gotten rid of our top predators. Native woodlands cover a mere 2.5% of our land and life in our seas has been decimated to meet unsustainable demand.
Nature is our life support system - without it, humanity will cease to exist. Conservation has worked tirelessly to save our wildlife for decades but rewilding is designed to spread the work of conservation beyond certain species and areas. It is an attempt to reset nature, to reverse species extinction and help nature flourish on a large scale.
The benefits of rewilding
🐛 It draws down carbon from the atmosphere
🦋 It helps wildlife adapt to climate change
🦔 It reduces biodiversity loss
🐸 It improves your health and wellbeing
15 ways to rewild your garden
1). Ditch the poisons
Create a natural haven in your garden by saying no to pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. The use of these toxic chemicals on farmland and gardens is one the biggest culprits behind the massive loss of insect life in our country.
2). Get messy
Stop tidying up. That pile of leaves makes a snug home for a hedgehog and beetle larvae will enjoy munching on that dead branch. Learn to appreciate that beauty doesn’t always equal order.
3). Let it rot
Decay is nature’s way of returning nutrients to the soil. Create a log pile, leave prunings to rot down in a sheltered place (these make fantastic bug hotels) and start a compost heap (check out our How to Compost blog post).
4). Let the worms do the work
When you turn over the soil, it disturbs the fine balance of microorganisms, worms, tiny invertebrates and the fungi that live there. Give up digging, throw down an organic mulch and let our wriggly friends do their thing.
5). Have a bird brain
When you're planting, think like a bird and use a mixture of different height plants. Different species of birds like to move from place to place in different ways. Long tailed tits move in short hops from tree to tree, while wrens will dash in and out of low cover.
6). Plant a tree
Plant a tree in your garden knowing generations to come can enjoy it too. When choosing a tree, stick with our native varieties as they have evolved with our wildlife. Silver birch, rowan, hawthorn, elderberry, holly, yew and crab apple are great choices as are fruit trees such as apple, pear, plum and cherry.
Coppicing trees replicates the tearing, breaking and gnawing of branches by our extinct native species such as beavers, bison and elk. It also stimulates new growth. Pile up anything you cut off and leave it to rot to provide food and homes for a huge variety of insects.
8). No, I don’t want no scrubs
Yes, you do. Nesting birds and insects love scrubs and they form the mid-level in your garden. Create your scrubs with grasses, clusters of young trees or thickets of brambles, sallow, hawthorn, blackthorn, honeysuckle or wild rose.
9). Let the grass grow
A mixture of short and long grass will support the most biodiversity. Mowed grass mimics the grazing pattern of native animals and this is where birds like blackbirds and starlings like to feed. Leave other areas to grow to create your own mini meadow. You can sow these with extra native wildflowers like our Save The Bees BeeBombs or Seedballs. Both only contain native seeds especially chosen to support wildlife (especially pollinators) and are all Royal Horticulture Society Approved. Your mini meadow will only need scything or cutting a few times a year and you will be able to watch the wildflowers change from week to week.
10). Be a boar
Wild pigs and boar love to root around in the dirt looking for food. This action creates bare patches and small hollows which are the perfect environment for seeds to germinate as well as turning up snacks for birds and other wildlife. Use a trowel to create the same patches and dips and your resident robin will love you for it.
11). Make a nest
Birds and bats love to nest in tree holes and crevices. If there are not enough of these available naturally in your garden, put up some nesting boxes around your garden or on your house. They don’t have to be fancy and you can make them yourself out of waste wood.
12). Water = Wildlife
Wildlife loves water and a pond is the most wildlife-friendly habitat you can introduce into your garden. Make sure you keep one shallow side to allow anything that falls in, such as hedgehogs, to crawl out. Avoid putting fish in it as they will limit the variety of wildlife who will visit your pond such as frogs, toads, newts and aquatic insects. If you don’t have room for a pond or you have young children, even a bird bath makes your garden more attractive to wildlife.
13). A year round pantry
Choose plants which will provide birds and insects with a good source of nectar, pollen, seeds and berries throughout the year. In autumn, instead of dead-heading all your plants, leave a selection of seed heads.
14). Let your guard down
If there are no natural gaps in the border between your and your neighbour’s garden, cut a small hole in or dig a little tunnel under each line of fencing. Lots of species need access to more than one garden to thrive. Hedgehogs, for example, need a range of 25 to 50 acres!
15). Be an advocate
Spread the word about rewilding to your family, friends, neighbours and community. Invite them round to see your garden and explain what you are doing and why. Take gorgeous photos of your wildflowers and resident critters and share them on your social media. Let’s make rewilding the new trend. Working with others is one of the best ways of increasing the cumulative, positive impacts of rewilding.