A healthy, well-kept garden can offer a variety of benefits both for you and for the surrounding nature as a whole. In this modern world of smog, industry, and general unmindfulness about the earth as a whole, contributing whatever we can to the greater natural good is essential. A garden is a small step toward this goal, but it is also an important one.
As natural spaces decline, it has become a necessity for insects, birds, mammals, and other natural life to adapt to urban living. Transforming your yard into a natural haven (no matter how small) can greatly serve the displaced creatures of the world, particularly the insects which are so desperately needed to keep the ecosystem running. But how can you make sure that your garden is encouraging healthy growth within your ecosystem?
Getting Down in the Soil
The foundation of any garden–indeed, of nearly all plant life–is the soil. Therefore, soil quality is of paramount importance when it comes to setting up your ecosystem-boosting home base. Avoid pesticides and commercial fertilisers; focus on adding organic matter (such as compost) to your soil to help it develop healthily and naturally.
During autumn, rather than tossing out the leaves that fall, collect them up and spread them over the soil. Over time, the leaves will get broken down into organic matter that will feed your soil which, in turn, feeds the plants and keeps everything moving. It’s easy, and it’s free (we love free)!
For bees, in particular, flower pollen is extremely important, as it is their main source of food and the means by which they grow their colonies.
With the bee population in a swift decline across the world, planting a bed of high-pollinating flowers that are native to your area can go a long way in providing a little reprieve for our pollinating friends. High-density pollen flowers usually include those that grow year-round, and diversity is key to draw in as many winged visitors as possible.
Home Sweet Tree
Trees often serve as homes for all sorts of different creatures, big and small alike. Having a good representation of trees in your yard–especially of the type with a form of bark that is prone to cracking or peeling–is perfect for those insects, birds, and mammals who look for such trees to nest in.
The cracking bark makes it easier for different types of insects and even lizards to crawl into the tree to make their homes, while birds and mammals will enjoy the fibre as either a dietary supplement or an addition to a nest or burrow.
One of the most damaging practices to the environment is the use of commercial weed and pest chemical sprays. In nature, there is no such thing as a “wasted” plant or insect; everything has its place, and disrupting that natural balance will disrupt the ecosystem in turn.
Don’t let your plants become overgrown with weeds, but also don’t destroy them all just because it is what has always been done. You can keep a nice, tame natural space and still have a few dandelions hanging around. No matter what, avoid chemicals that could potentially damage good and bad insects and plants alike. Let nature take its course.
Put the Mower Down
Areas of congested spaces and frantic movement are a major deterrent for most natural life, and urban areas exemplify these factors perfectly. For these pollinators and critters looking for a place to lay low, open, grassy areas that are quiet are more appealing than a busy park where footballs and frisbees and human bodies are flying every which way.
Avoid mowing your lawn during pollinating seasons, and perhaps even let the grass grow a little taller than you might have in the past. This will allow the bees and birds to have a safe place to go and contribute to the surrounding environment in the ways that only they can.
In a single backyard, it is possible to cultivate a wide variety of mini natural biomes that can cater to a wide variety of different insects, birds, and mammals. Research the kind of plants that are native to you area, and brainstorm ways that you can create these different biomes within your yard.
Plants like to grow alongside other plants that like the same things as they do (Sort of like people, in a way). Thus, if you create a biome that caters to a certain type of plant, it will flourish because the biome has what it needs to do so. And the more diverse and creative you get within each biome, the more diverse and exotic your natural visitors will be.