“What would you like to get out of your garden?” This is the first question we ask our customers and over the last twenty or so years of designing and creating gardens, the answers have been many and varied. Most, however, tend to include the same overall themes; seating areas, lawns, colourful and interesting planting, space for the kids to play etc. Them come the ‘nice to haves’; water somewhere would be nice, lighting, irrigation (we never have time to water). Almost all say ‘low maintenance’ – no one has ever asked us for a ‘high maintenance’ garden!
The size, shape, aspect, slope and, of course, budget then influence the wish list. We then have a good starting point.
From time to time, however, the motivation is different, which necessarily governs the design process. This is very true when it comes to a wildlife garden.
The idea of a messy corner or unkempt patch where nettles can flourish and attract butterflies or a deadwood pile become homes for insects, is enough for some people. But increasingly, encouraging wildlife and creating a home for nature, is becoming the primary driver for re-vamping an ordinary garden.
The challenge for me as a designer is to create the best and most diverse habitat for wildlife while still having the ‘WOW’ factor of a conventional garden. Nettle patches don’t really scale up unfortunately!
This is where careful planning and innovative design can create a stunning garden that can also be a haven for wildlife. At its core needs to be water – and the bigger, the better – whether a pond, stream, rill, waterfall or swimming pond.
If you really want to take the plunge (sorry!) and dive headlong (sorry again!) into a wildlife garden with the WOW factor, then start by thinking about replacing your current lawn with water. It might sound drastic but shallow margins and careful planting can mean it is not only amazing to look at, but can also be safe for children and pets. Charles Darwin speculated that all life might have started in a ‘warm little pond’, and experts now estimate that two-thirds of all freshwater species live in these little pools.
If you are prepared to think radically and use your outside space to benefit wildlife, then now is a great time to start. Planning and creating a wildlife garden is best done in the winter when you and the wildlife use the garden the least. So don’t delay – go wild in the garden and give us a call.