Working to Rewild: 8 Steps to Eco-Conscious Gardening
Now more than ever it’s important to take steps towards becoming more eco-conscious in our everyday lives. For serious gardeners (or just those of us with green-finger tendencies) this means adopting greener methods that help to protect the environment, reduce waste and use less resources. Today, we’ll be exploring a practice called “rewilding”. We hear you, just what is rewilding though? The term “rewilding” refers to the process of returning land to its natural, uncultivated state. In practice, it means reintroducing natural flora, fauna, and creatures to the area like flowers, trees, and insects. Allowing animals to wander freely is one part of the process, but if you’re not about to open your gates Animal Farm style, we’ll walk you through 8 steps towards eco-conscious gardening that you can try today.
8 ways to rewild your garden
1. Reduce weedingWeeds are often seen as garden “pests” however, they contribute to the natural state of the land and are a key part of the rewilding process. Garden weeds such as dandelions, daisies and thistles are all native to the UK and are a big part of the natural landscape. Letting these plants grow in your garden will provide homes to local wildlife and allow the landscape to return to its roots (see what we did there?) Besides, some weeds, like Herb Robert, are quite beautiful.
2. Reduce diggingEvery time the ground is dug up, it can disturb natural wildlife and habitats. Reducing digging as much as possible and leaving the land in your garden to do its own thing lets roots grow deeper and gives burrowing animals and ground insects the peace they need. If you can’t resist the pull of digging, try choosing an area of ground that is fairly empty and doesn’t house much wildlife. Alternatively, planters and free-standing pots are great options – you can dig to your heart's content without disturbing anything but the plants housed within!
3. Plant treesTrees are essential to the health of the planet. Therefore, we should be working towards planting as many as possible. If you have space in your garden, why not consider planting a tree of your own? Different species will require different care and environments. The best ones to opt for are those that are native to the UK. Consider silver birch, rowan, hawthorn, elderberry, holly, yew or crab apple. And if you don’t have the space for a full-size tree, dwarf fruit trees are another great option – the more the merrier!
4. Reduce mowingOne of the easiest way to rewild, believe it or not, is to simply sit back and do nothing. That’s right, put your mower away! Mowing your lawn prevents the natural landscape from growing. Instead, take the time to reinvigorate your lawn by fixing patches with grass seeds and watch it flourish. On the other hand, closely mown grass simulates the grazing pattern of wild horses. Here is where blackbirds and starlings like to feed, so if you mow a section of the grass closest to the house, they’re sure to appreciate it.
5. Build sheltersMaking your garden a haven for wildlife can be as simple as inviting it in. A great way to make sure you’re being as accommodating as possible is to build shelters for different animals so that they can safely make nests. You can easily build animal homes in tree holes, under logs or even under your shed! When building shelters, make sure that you think about the location. Make sure it won’t be disturbed and try to mimic a natural habitat as much as possible. Use sticks, leaves and grass to insulate the shelter and make a clear entrance/exit for animals to access it.
6. Harvest rainwaterHarvesting rainwater in its easiest form is simply a case of placing a container outside, and at its most complex, involves placing the tank in such a way that water coming from your gutters collects in it. The harvested rainwater can be used to reduce the amount of water taken from the mains, as well as to provide drinking water for potted plants and irrigation systems. Not only that, but harvesting rainwater can help you save money on your water bill. "There are several benefits to storing rainwater in a rainwater harvesting system," says Tanks for Everything. "The biggest one is the savings gained on metered water prices, which can yield up to 50% savings."
7. Encourage scrubScrub, which includes prickly shrubs, grasses, and stands of young trees, is the landscape's mid-level. For those of us with less agriculture under our belts, scrubland consists of dense shrubbery. It is ideal for insects and other invertebrates as well as providing shelter and safe locations for nesting birds. Brambles, sallow, hawthorn, blackthorn, honeysuckle, and wild rose all form dense thickets or mounds naturally. Embracing scrub in your garden and encouraging it to grow creates a varied landscape which is excellent for local wildlife.
8. Mess is neat!A messy garden is a varied and thriving one! When you consider a pile of leaves as a hedgehog's nest or a dead branch as beetle larvae food, you'll realise that mess is the best thing for your garden (it makes a pretty good excuse anyway).
Written by Millie Fuller - Creative Copywriter & Coffee Lover at The Writer's Diary.