The close-to-nature garden is not just a place for residing of up to 1000 species of insects and animals, but thinking globally, it is also a great way to make our planet a better place, by re-greening your living area and thereby restoring natural biodiversity.
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Having a perfect lawn is overrated
A perfect lawn with a neat white fence nearby is a “dream-view” that has been ingrained into our subconsciousness by American series.
But is it actually that good? In terms of biodiversity, a well-trimmed homogeneous lawn brings as much as almost no value. That is why the first step on the way to achieve a close-to-nature garden is replacing your spotless lawn with a wild and lush flower meadow.
To the suitable plants belong all the local wild plants, e.g. oxeye daisies, mallow, celandine, cosmos, lesser/ greater stitchwort, scabiosa, thistles etc.
There are already ready-made seed mixtures on the market for hobby gardeners that do not want to run deeply into the whole variety of local wild plants. They contain all you need and will spare you lots of time, giving the guaranteed diversity of colours and odours.
NB: beware that such ready-made seed mixtures often contain a large number of different plant species, which are pretty often annual. This means that most of the colour splendour will disappear till the next blossom season. That’s why make sure that your mixture has an adequate amount of perennials.
Just this tiny change, which will spare you lots of afford in the future, by the way, will make your garden a paradise for butterflies, wild bees, lizards and hedgehogs.
Before the planting, make sure to expose and water the soil. When sowing directly in the lawn, most of the seeds won't pop out. Distribute your seeds through the garden in the way that there are a few meadow-like flowers at each square meter of the lawn area and within a few years, they will spread along all the yard. If you would want to shape out all this splendour in the future, use garden scissors for this purpose. Using a lawnmower is harmful to the insects, worms and small mammals living in the soil and grass.
Create a natural-like water feature
Instead of having a squeaky-clean swimming pool, set up a natural pond. By adding the soil and planting the weeds, you can create a favourable environment for the numerous water inhabitants, such as frogs, fishes, newts and others. Moreover, water features are crucial for insect breeding; for instance, dragonflies, water beetles, mosquitoes lay their eggs in water. Their larvae serve as a perfect food source for your garden wildlife. A garden pond can also serve a good purpose on hot summer days, providing a cooling sip of water for thirsty animals.
Moreover, your pond should be in half-shadow during the time of the day, when the sun's rays are the strongest so that your pond does not dry out too much in summer and its inhabitants do not suffer from the heat. In winter, it should have a frost-free zone because most water inhabitants depend on it at extreme cold times. This is where they bury themselves in the mud in late autumn and hibernate during the winter months. That is why you should consider local weather conditions before setting up your garden pond and plan its site and depth accordingly.
Sometimes less is more
Piles of stones, plants’ remains, deadwood and all the other things gardeners are so keen to get rid of are actually full of life.
It represents a natural habitat and food source for many insects and animal species and is therefore particularly important for biodiversity. That is why setting up a close-to-nature garden does not necessarily mean making an effort. Even on the contrary, instead of spending hours with your back bent over your garden beds to get rid of the weeds, leave all the green to grow and thrive. Nature rewards those who take it easy with giving your garden a bright and lively appearance. So find at least a corner in your garden that would be on purpose “neglected” and wild. Let your garden flourish on its own, and don't clear away branches and fallen leaves from the area. Just leave it the way it is — and watch the animals start settling there over time.
Choose eco-friendly garden waste disposal methods
In case you are eager to preserve a tidy look of your garden, consider eco-friendly garden waste disposal methods. For instance, do not hurry with cleaning up the cuttings of the excessive plants. Better leave them to dry on the site. In this way, the remaining plant seeds would remain within your garden and spread throughout it. Later you can use the obtained hay for mulching or composting.
The latter is one of the most natural and probably the easiest way of garden waste disposal. With this method's help that combines the natural process of decaying and breaking up by the organisms that live in the soil, you can obtain from 50 litres of garden waste up to 10 litres of nutrient-rich humus. There are lots of composting types, but, in my opinion, the ones that deserve special attention are worm composting and Bokashi composting.
Wormery, compared to collecting a common compost pile in the back garden, has a distinct advantage: you can place it inside your house, garden storage shed or even a balcony and use it the whole year long because it doesn’t produce a strong odour. Moreover, suppose your balcony is tiny and you lack space for having both a wormery and a small table with a stool. In that case, you can actually have both by simply adding a cushion on the top of your worm box and a comfortable chair is ready. Naturally, it depends on the durability of the box you have, so you have to plan such multifunctionality in advance and construct your wormery accordingly.
Bokashi composting is another upgraded version of composting, whereby instead of inhabiting a waste box with the needed bacterias and microorganisms naturally, you can get a ready-made mixture of Bokashi bran and specially selected colonies of effective microorganisms. Such an artificially created concentration of them can easily cope with almost all types of organic waste in a short time. As a bonus, the Bokashi composter's waste does not develop an unpleasant odour compared to having an organic waste bin. Therefore, you can put it even in the kitchen. Moreover, Bokashi bran serves excellent as a soil amender. Due to its microorganisms variety, it strengthens the immune system of plants and improves germination.
In conclusion, I’d like to say that the closer natural-like gardens are to one another, the greater the value for wildlife and, globally thinking, for our planet they provide. That’s why motivating your neighbours to set up close-to-nature gardens too would also be a great idea.