So, I woke up this morning to a message from my mum saying that her neighbour had installed a device that emitted a high-pitched noise to deter foxes and other mammals, although he claimed to “love wildlife”.
Understandably, I’m sure, I got a little bit frustrated and asked “why do people hate wildlife?”
Which also reminded me of this tweet that my boyfriend showed me earlier this week:
From desolate wasteland to luscious lawn in a day! 💚😎— Perfectly Green Artificial Grass (@Perfectly_Green) May 1, 2021
More amazing work from Southdown Landscapes & Turf Co who specialise in #landscaping & #artificialgrass installations. #syntheticgrass #lowmaintenance #gardendesign #landscaping #outdoordesign #homeandgarden #landscapedesign pic.twitter.com/Dya6Aczzkc
Among the replies is the wonder that is Chris Packham:
Wrong - from luscious biodiversity to desolate plastic wasteland - but don’t worry , we don’t need wildlife do we ? We haven’t found solace in respite in the nature in our gardens over the last year have we ? No , so just rip it up and live in Barbies Lego land then . Idiots . https://t.co/TnnqhpeWO8— Chris Packham (@ChrisGPackham) May 8, 2021
These lawns also have detrimental effects on domesticated animals, independent to the wildlife.
I found out artificial grass can burn puppy feet and gets 10 degrees hotter than real lawn— Yllek Ajrat (@AjratYllek) May 8, 2021
There's so many other lawn varieties out there now. Some never grow higher than 7 cm. I wish manicured lawns never became a "must have"😞Sadly, people equate messy lawns with dirty people
How can people claim to “love nature” but do things like this? Somehow there is a growing popularity for fake lawns and hedges, when gardens should be small refuges for nature. A quick walk around garden centres will confirm this worrying obsession with keeping gardens looking a certain way, with so many products for the “perfect lawn” that contain substances to kill mosses, “weeds”, anything that isn’t a grass monoculture. There are so many different types of pesticides, designed to keep nature from doing its own thing and existing in people’s gardens.
One of my favourite things that I have learnt from Countryfile is how William and Dorothy Wordsworth would walk around Cumbria collecting plants for their garden, so that they could replicate the natural habitat of the hills. My grandmother has designed her garden to be a haven to all wildlife and nature, this is the kind of garden that I aspire to have when I am lucky enough to have a garden of my own.
People love gardening, but eradicate anything that “doesn’t belong”, including introducing non-native species in over native (rhododendron, I’m looking at you!). Having lived without a garden for about a year, I can’t stand to sit back and watch those that do have this luxury abuse their power over nature.
This all comes in light of a small fox family living in my mums back garden. Initially, her and her partner tried to discourage the adult foxes because of their cat, but upon discovering (quite a large) litter of kits, they immediately stopped and have left the parent foxes to raise their young in peace.
That was back in March. However, my mum has spent the past week anxious that she hasn’t seen the parent foxes, and then learnt that their neighbour had installed a device that deterred foxes from entering their garden.
I can’t understand how someone could do something like that whilst still claiming that they “love nature”. People love “nature” on their terms, without actually knowing what true nature actually looks like. This may be due to a lack of education, or it could be down to an obstinate human-centric view on what nature should look like.
There is a lot of noise about how people love listening to, as well as seeing, the birdlife in their gardens. But how do you expect these creatures to even find your garden if there is nothing there for them? Without the native plant species, there are fewer insects, without such there is a limited food source for the birds, regardless of bird feeders.
If this year has taught the wider population anything it’s that nature is as important for mental health, as well as physical health.
Gardening should be fun, I appreciate that people have visions of how they want theirs to look, in the same way that I do about my future garden space. However, I feel like gardening should be more about providing connectivity and corridors for native wildlife and nature, whilst still upholding everyone’s visions of a “perfect” garden without completely destroying biodiversity and species richness.
Here are some suggestions if you are interested in making your garden as “wildlife friendly” as possible:
Add piles of deadwood to encourage fungi and to provide a habitat and shelter for animals;
By allowing your lawn to grow you will be providing a habitat for many species of plants and insects;
Bird boxes and insect “hotels” are also fantastic contributions to a garden (although if you do have a cat, or one lives next door, it is recommended to put them in dense vegetation for cover);
Similarly, creating a pond (without fish!), which could be as small as a buried bucket, filled with rainwater yields high biodiversity points;
Replacing non-native plants with native, like I mentioned above, as well as planting climbers and flowers encourages insects and pollinators into your garden!
I know that this past year I have felt frustrated whenever I have watched something where someone has said about how easy it is to be more nature-friendly and they have had an entire plot of land! If you don’t have a garden, don’t fret, I see you! There are things that you could do too:
Create window boxes of native flowers (lavender is especially popular with pollinators!);
Hang a bird feeder outside your window, you could spend hours watching the birds fly back and forth, particularly if you set up a comfy seat for yourself;
Get involved with local conservation projects in your area, volunteer to clear invasive species, or plant native wildseeds where appropriate (check beforehand as there could be existing programmes in place)!
I really hope that those few steps and tips (and photographs of my gran’s beautiful garden!) will inspire you to make your garden (if you are lucky enough to have one!) and nature space a little bit more wildlife friendly!
Garden photographs were very nicely supplied by Carole Cilia, and fox family photos were taken by me, Coral Brigden.
To find more information, check out these links: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000n23h/countryfile-the-lake-district?page=1 https://www.theenglishgarden.co.uk/expert-advice/increase-biodiversity-garden/ https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/nine-ways-to-build-a-wildlife-friendly-garden https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/conservation-biodiversity/wildlife/encourage-wildlife-to-your-garden https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/nature-and-mental-health/ideas-to-try-in-nature/