The Wild Garden – a breakdown in “Lawn Order”
Many serious-minded conservationists have been disparaging about the concept of domestic gardens being mini-nature reserves. However with the steadfast march of “Lawn Order” – i.e. the sanitisation and obsessive tidying of our countryside and suburbs, the wildlife friendly garden, is becoming increasingly important, although of course this is still inversely proportional to the degree of “Lawn Order” imposed on the garden! Having immaculate and regimented gardens with velvet striped lawns, lollipop trees and shrubs and immaculately-maintained borders of pretty but barren flowers – not a leaf or a flower out of line and not a weed in sight – is something of an affectation and an obsession for many gardeners and landowners.
Quite simply put -the more tidy and sterile a garden is made, and the more nature is controlled, the less good it is for wildlife and the more lonely a place it becomes, denying the possibility of it being a haven and a refuge for our beleaguered wildlife.
Many species of plants and animals have suffered marked declines in their populations. With changes in agricultural practices, the domestic garden can be a significant refuge for species such as the House Sparrow, the Common frog, the Hedgehog, and the Song thrush.
About 80% of households in the UK have gardens, and typically in the urbanised areas of the cities of the UK at least 20% – 25% of the overall green space is down to domestic gardens. Estimates of the square acreage involved range from between 2.5 and 3 million, and with other habitats under threat, the importance of domestic gardens cannot be ignored. Gardens, linked by trees, hedges and such, may act as mini reserves maintenance of biodiversity whilst providing valuable corridors for wildlife to move and colonise new sites. Gardens are also very often first points of contact and interaction between people and wildlife so can be important for people on an emotional and mental well -being level.