Make some changes!

These ‘anti New Year res­o­lu­tions’ should make your gar­den even more wildlife-friendly

Garden News (UK) - - About Now - With Ju­lian Rollins

Is New Year the best time to be mak­ing res­o­lu­tions? For any­one plan­ning big changes, the tim­ing doesn’t seem help­ful, and Jan­uary is usu­ally enough of a chal­lenge in it­self! In­stead, maybe it’s an idea to make some anti-res­o­lu­tions – things to not do that should make your gar­den a lit­tle more wildlife-friendly.

Don’t use chem­i­cals

Save your money and spend it on some­thing much nicer. It’s all about the long game; you can zap pests that you don’t like, but there will be ‘friendly fire’ losses. By go­ing or­ganic you’ll give use­ful preda­tors like la­dy­birds, lacewings and rove bee­tles a break. They’ll then do the pest con­trol for you.

Don’t bother with the hover!

At some happy time in the not-so-dis­tant fu­ture, it’ll be sum­mer. Re­solve now to spend more time in a comfy chair with a drink and/ or good book and let the grass grow! Less is more. Mow less often, and when you do use the mower, don’t do all of the lawn in one go. Grass that’s al­lowed to grow to a height of 9cm (3½in) or more de­vel­ops a stronger root struc­ture, so can tol­er­ate drought bet­ter. And, of course, longer grass is far bet­ter for all sorts of in­sects and other in­ver­te­brates. That will feed birds like robins and dun­nocks, as well as small an­i­mals such as toads and shrews.

Don’t use the word ‘weed’

Yes, there are plants that will take a mile if you give them an inch, but most plants that we con­sider weeds are easy to live with. My lawn is full of dan­de­lions each spring, which used to an­noy me. But a few years ago I chose to re­think my at­ti­tude to them and see them as just an­other cheery spring flower – as wel­come as daffs. Dan­de­lion flow­ers are a great nec­tar source for early in­sects, and I man­age to keep them in check by re­mov­ing flower heads be­fore they set seed.

Don’t tidy (es­pe­cially in au­tumn)

B Birds and an­i­mals don’t like tidy! If you let plants die back and set seed in au­tumn there’ll be more for birds to eat when it gets cold. Plus, in­sects will have some­where to shel­ter dur­ing the win­ter. Prun­ings left as log piles at­tract in­ver­te­brates as they rot down, which means there’s more for hedge­hogs, newts, and other in­sect-eaters to find.

Don’t buy a cat

…or add to your cat clan if you’re al­ready a cat owner. The na­tion’s do­mes­tic cats are bad news for wildlife. If you need a fe­line ‘fix’, stick to so­cial me­dia – there’s more than enough cute cat footage there!

Dan­de­lions don’t have to be weeds! Their flow­ers are loved by early bees

Sadly cats like to pick off birds and frogs A la m y

Buy more plants in­stead of chem­i­cals! A la m y

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