If you’re a keen gardener, this time of year can feel like a bit of a battle. Early summer storms and showers followed by a heat wave, and before you know it the garden resembles the Amazon basin. The battle between keeping the garden tidy but also great for wildlife is challenging, and the hundred mows war with the lawn can feel particularly arduous. But it doesn’t have to be like that!
Let it grow has changed my life. Not only is my lawn lush, in places long, and everywhere are there insects, my beard and hair are coming along nicely too – it doesn’t have to only apply to your garden you know. Plus, after encouraging my mum to do the same, she doesn’t nag her partner as much. Win-win.
Here's a great action shot. If I had my way, my entire lawn would be let grow... Landlords ey?! (Photo: Jack Plumb)
My garden, like the inside of the house, is full of wildlife. From a wasp nest in the brickwork and a bee-covered honeysuckle, to spider land and slug world, my tiny garden is bursting with life. Let it grow is part of the RSPB’s Wild Challenge, which is a simple set of activities designed to get young people, their families, and anyone else who wants to join in, outside and helping nature thrive. Since taking part and especially since letting it grow, I’ve seen lots of new wildlife – especially insect life. Some of it in my beard!
The bees are back in town, and the wasps are welcome. The added benefit of my honeysuckle is if I leave the window open the scent drifts in - natural air freshener! (Photo: Jack Plumb)
Insects are where my love of nature began. As a very young child I remember being fascinated with everything bug, especially the ants under the pathing slabs. Insects help attract other kinds of wildlife, from birds and small mammals to amphibians, so it’s one of the best starting points for making your garden more attractive to the wildlife you love – even if that’s not insects! Anna started us off in her fantastic blog last week detailing 7 ways to help insects thrive, but there are other, easier ways too. Let's get lazy.
A new spider land resident moves in (Photo: Jack Plumb)
My top tips for lazy, insect-friendly gardening are:
Let it grow! LET IT GROW! Let your grass grow long!
Just leave a patch of lawn, anywhere in your garden, untrimmed for the summer. Can it get any easier?
Heap and hope
Start a compost heap. No, not a beautifully made bespoke wooden one, I’m talking about a pile in the corner, maybe in a tub or maybe not – see how you feel. Bung one up the back of the garden and the effects can be huge. If you’re really lucky you might get some of the UK’s fantastic reptile species calling it home.
A puddle or a pond
Any amount of water, brought into the garden, can increase the diversity of wildlife that visits or calls it home. Whether it’s a Frisbee you forgot about or a recreation of lake Windermere, wildlife wants it. Making a pond is as easy as spilling some water. Well, almost.
A bug hotel, a hovel, or a pile of whatever
Bug hotels can look awesome, and young people will find them fascinating, but if you don’t have the time or means to make one you can just pile up some rubble, sticks, soil and stones in a hidden corner and insects will like it just as much. Plus it’s one less trip to the dump.
Plants you’ll love and insects will love too
Lavender. Honeysuckle. Thyme. Foxgloves. These are the plants insects love, and to be honest, can you blame them? Gorgeous smells and colours that are easy to grow and maintain. Bang some in a border and get back to relaxing! Here's what to plant for wildlife.
More mowing, more problems. Life's too short, but your grass doesn't have to be (Photo: Jack Plumb)
Easy = good. It’s taken me a year to get round to making a pallet garden table, but in that time I’ve not cut the lawn, piled some crud in a corner, lost a shallow bowl, and not mentioned to the landlord a wasp nest in the brick work. Now, with my garden table complete, I can enjoy the buzz of an unkempt garden.
Too right mate! Some people's obsession with neatness (why? what are they afraid of?) will be the death of nature.