Nature Friendly Gardens

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There are over 15 million gardens across the UK, which adds up to be an area bigger than all our National Nature Reserves combined! This means that the way we design our gardens is really important for preserving and nurturing our local biodiversity. Nature friendly gardens provide habitats for local wildlife, by incorporating native plants, water features and shelter options to attract birds, butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects which in turn fosters a thriving ecosystem right in our neighbourhoods.

On the other hand, gardens with excessive paving and artificial grass create a sterile environment, increasing our carbon footprint, our flood risk and urban temperatures, leaching plastic into soils and pushing wildlife away. Currently, over half of UK’s front gardens are covered in hard surfaces. 

Creating your own nature friendly garden will play a crucial role in sustaining our local ecosystem, promoting biodiversity, and enhancing the beauty of our environment. Together, we can make our communities a haven for both people and wildlife!

Nature friendly garden  Butterfly on some flowers in a garden

Top Tips for Nature Friendly Garden

Swap paving and artificial grass for plants

Ditch your artificial lawns / paving and allow sections of your natural grass to grow long, especially during the summer months! Even better, why not try making your own small wildflower meadow?

Check out a guide here: How to grow a wild patch or mini meadow | The Wildlife Trusts

Plants for pollinators

Some plants are much better for encouraging wildlife than others, keep an eye out for plants with an RHS 'plants for pollinators' badge.

Consider buying plants for all seasons, so you are providing a food source for wildlife throughout as much as the year as possible.

Example plants for butterflies, bees and caterpillars include: 

  • Spring - Primroses, Forget-me-not, Cuckoo flower
  • Summer - Corn flower, French Marigold, Thyme, Lavender, Sage
  • Autumn - Flowering Ivy, Buddleia, Verbena, Chrysanthemum
  • Winter - Flowering Crocus 

Don't turn your nose up at dandelions! Some of plants that we traditionally think of as unattractive or weeds can actually be beneficial for wildlife. It's always good to check online first, before removing any of your plants.

Be creative with your space

You don't need a massive garden to make a difference, even small spaces can be made more nature friendly! 

Planter boxes and raised beds are a great way to increase your plant coverage. You can also include plants that grow up walls/trellises: How to create a vertical garden | The Wildlife Trusts

Avoid pesticides and artificial fertilisers

Pesticides often harm nature. Check out this guide for alternative techniques: Gardening without pesticides - Pesticide Action Network UK (

Using fertilisers, especially artificial ones, isn't always the best choice for your garden or the planet. For example, wildflower species native to the UK flourish in low nutrient soil. How to care for your soil / RHS Gardening

Get to know your garden

Different plants and wildlife thrive in different conditions, so its important to learn more about your garden in order to design it in an effective way. Some things to think about include:

  • Soil type
  • Direction of sunlight e.g. is your garden south facing?
  • Areas of shade
  • Level of rainfall  

Nowadays you can also install identification apps for plants, mushrooms and wildlife on your smart phone to help learn what's happening in your garden

Front Gardens and Driveways

Here's a handy guide for helping make your front garden more nature friendly:

Nature Friendly Front Garden Design
Download (11.6MB - PDF)

poppies and wild flowers in a front garden

Back Gardens

There are lots of ways to look after different types of wildlife in your garden: 

 Things to avoid!

1. Buying too many double or multi-petalled flowers
 - Compared to other plants, they often lack the nectar and pollen insects need

2. Over watering and using 'new water'
  - Established lawns need watering less than you might think
  - Plants love rainwater best. Use a water-butt to collect rainwater, which also helps to reduce your water bills!

3. Binning your plant waste straight away
- Leave plant deadheads until mid-winter, to provide a home for insects
- Use fallen leaves in a leaf mould

4. Too much artificial light pollution can harm wildlife and affect your plants growth cycles
- Turn off your garden lighting when not in use or opt for 'low intensity lighting'

5. Don't use peat compost
- Peat compost comes from lowland peat bogs which are an important habitat for wildlife
- When damaged, bogs also emit large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Why not join Team Wilder?

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are calling for more people to take part in a rapidly growing movement of people who care about our environment and want to help wildlife thrive. Through #TeamWilder they are empowering Yorkshire’s communities to act for a wilder future. If 1 in 4 people take visible action for nature, we will create the social tipping point required to reverse nature’s devastating decline, bringing everyone into new, healthier and more sustainable ways of thinking and living.

By joining #TeamWilder you’ll gain access to a wide range of enriching resources and more!

Find out more - here!

Further Guidance

For more information on creating nature friendly gardens in the UK, several reputable sources offer valuable advice and resources. Here :