What does it mean to rebuild your garden? There are different definitions but in a nutshell, it means inviting nature back through creating welcoming conditions.
aims to showcase wild species and encourage biodiversity among our flora and fauna. For many, it’s a different approach to gardening. For hundreds of years we have been conditioned to appreciate color and orderliness and gardening revolves around controlling nature and imposing our will, often through the use of medicinal herbs. weeds and pesticides.
Our annual pattern is to keep our plots neat and orderly often to the detriment of other life forms that rely on our gardens for survival. It is also easy for us to pump our plots with chemicals to promote growth or kill populations.
We’re bombarded with images from magazines, TV shows and Instagram, and from events like the Chelsea Flower Show, which celebrates garden perfection. However, perfection in nature, if it exists at all, is different. It involves a complete ecosystem…and its mess at times.
Horticulture is important. We need to practice that craft along with a more relaxed approach to our expectations. We should work in tandem with nature instead of against it.
What does this mean in practice? There are different ways to rebuild, from entry levels all the way up to a full wolf intro!
As weekend gardeners, we can start simple, such as leaving part of the garden messy, allowing it to return to its natural state, or perhaps leaving part of the lawn intact to see the changes. Wildflowers grow, plant a wildflower meadow, and choose pollinator-friendly plants – anything that will really give nature space to restore itself.
That doesn’t mean leaving your garden all in shambles – small dogs or horses can run rampant, leaving us with unusable spaces.
Reworking our garden involves creating a balance that benefits both us and the environment.
It’s time to start gardening in a different and gentler way. Many creatures rely on our conspiracies to survive and we wake up to the realization that we rely heavily on them for survival and therefore we have an obligation to take care of them.
So less perfection and more great gardening…for us and our planet. Here are some easy ways to rebuild your plot:
1. Make friends with weeds!
Weeds are not the enemy, although they are often portrayed as such in advertisements offering a way to destroy them. Weeds are just wildflowers – they grow well and are strong because they are at home here. And our native insects love them too. A small patch of nettles will be a midwifery home for butterflies to lay their eggs (and they also make a delicious nettle soup!) Comfrey will make a super homemade liquid food if soaked in water and thistle is magnet for bees in summer.
2. Let the grass grow
Lawns are great for football games and neatly manicured pieces of pristine grass can be beautiful. However, we became obsessed and turned our island into a patchwork quilt. And the perfect lawn is an ecological desert.
Leaving a bit of area uncut will allow each type of grass to flower. These flowers produce valuable pollen that is collected by bees and moths.
Relax your attack on daisies and dandelions. When they bloom, they are beautiful and they are also rich in the pollen that bees and moths need to survive. And we need bees to pollinate our crops.
If we only cut lawn mowing to just once every 3 weeks, it’s estimated that we would encourage 2.5 times more flowers like daisies, dandelions, and clover, and plant diversity. more varieties of bees.
3. Create a small meadow and plant wildflower seeds
This may be a small patch but make sure it’s in a sunny spot for best results.
Choose a mix of native wildflowers if possible and prepare the ground by removing the weeds as this species outgrow wildflowers and will overwhelm them. Poor soil is great for wildflowers.
If your soil is very fertile, remove the top few inches. Seeds can be sown in fall or spring. Spread widely but do not cover with soil, just lightly tilled and watered if no rain is forecast for a short time.
4. Plant hedges instead of hedges
Sometimes you need a fence to keep small pets, but if practical, consider planting a native hedge plant to support native species. I came across a front garden recently where they had cut down a row of leylandii trees and planted a mixture of oak and hawthorn instead.
These will provide plenty of foliage, nectar, flowers and fruit for native species and can provide corridors and shelter for hedgehogs. Looks better too! Other suitable species include black apple, wild rose, and hazelnut.
5. The mind of birds
During the lockdown, many people became more aware of birdsong and were confined indoors discovering the joys of snooping and hearing birds in the garden. Make your garden attractive to them by feeding them during the winter, you can plant suitable trees and shrubs that provide natural shelter as well as bushes for the children.
Holly, ivy, mountain ash, hawthorn, crab apple, honeysuckle are all good choices. Sources of water whether it’s a clean dish of water or from a pond are all good attractions for birds but if you have young children it’s best to postpone breeding ponds. And in the spring, place nesting boxes to provide some safe haven for young bird families.
6. Don’t dig the garden
Yes, this means you get rid of the spade and no longer dig up weeds and “improve” your soil. We destroy the soil’s structure and release carbon each time you break it by forging, reclamation and digging.
Soil is a precious resource that has been built up over thousands of years. Healthy soil is full of earthworms and microorganisms. Instead of digging, you can bury the weeds with a thick layer of compost or layers of cardboard.
This can be anything 2 to 6 inches deep, which is enough to exclude light from the weeds, thereby inhibiting their growth. Mulch that can be garden compost, decayed manure or chipped bark will stimulate activity because earthworms digest this organic matter and in doing so, create air pockets in the soil that help structure and enrich the land.
Embrace the mess – so relaxing!
Messy patches are acceptable. A pile of logs or sticks, rotting leaves, or well-composted compost is a good habitat for animals to hibernate. You may have only a small area of your land to allow nature to do its work but imagine that being multiplied across the land.
Don’t miss out on your Spring Gardening booklet, free in the Irish Independent on Saturdays and Sundays, with expert advice on everything from what to plant for all types of gardens, to how to enjoy the outdoors. heaven, how to get kids involved, and more.
https://www.independent.ie/life/home-garden/gardens/call-of-the-wild-diarmuid-gavins-6-top-tips-to-transform-your-garden-into-a-pollinators-paradise-41455868.html Call of the Wild – Diarmuid Gavin’s top 6 tips to turn your garden into a pollinator’s paradise