Forum home Wildlife gardening

Advice required please


I'd like a bit of advice please.  I have a garden where the grass hasn't been really cut in several years.  It is long and quite tough.  I am thinking that I would like to possibly have a small wildlife garden but where to start because the grass hasn't been cut in a long time?

Any advice please? 



  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923

    first you need to get rid of the grass (or most of it)

    as wildlife resources go grass is really really poor, nothing really eats it (unless you have rabbits) it doesn't have flowers for bees or butterflies, the only thing it will do is gives a bit of shelter - and there are far better plants for that!

    what are you thinking of doing? wildflower meadow? woodland garden? bee and butterfly nectar bar? pond? etc.

  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116

    I'm not sure that it's much help to your question, but if you have long grass, the chances are it's already a wildlife garden as long grass is one of the best things you can have as habitat for birds, small mammals, insects and amphibians.

    Options might be to mow some of the grass and leave some long and or/ try to introduce some native wild flowers. There are a lot of articles and videos on this site for how to create / shape a wildlife garden. But it sounds like you have a head start. Best wishes

  • GuestGuest Posts: 10

    Thanks, appreciate the replies.  At the moment, I'm unsure about what to do with it but I'm thinking something basic like a small patch of wildflower meadow.  The problem is our neighbour who recently moved in took it upon herself to start spraying weed killer over some of the grass and overgrown plants in our garden and I wasn't very happy about that.  I didn't say anything about it but she went ahead and started spraying the stuff all over.

    Anyway, I've always thought it would be nice to have something besides only keeping the grass down. 

    I'll have a look at the links to get some ideas.  The garden is small and the grass has taken over.

  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116

    I should say, that I was writing a comment at the same time as Treehugger. My comment wasn't disputing theirs. As I understand it, short grass is not much use for wildlife but long grass is a bit of a haven habitat. Wild flower meadow even more so.

  • Mark56Mark56 Windsor, BerkshirePosts: 1,653

    Is it pure grass or does it have what would be considered weeds within? Dandelions & clover etc are all loved by bees and often forgotten. 

    Last edited: 03 July 2017 16:52:20

  • WateryWatery Posts: 388

    Is it a shared garden?    If it is, you will have to discuss with your neighbours if they would also want the same thing.   (If not, why is your neighbour doing anything to it?)  Short grass can be useful for wildlife if you have low-growing flowers in it, even if it's not as useful as other things, as Treehugger says. .  A photo would be helpful.

  • GuestGuest Posts: 10

    Yes, there are weeds within it but the grass is very long and the neighbour next door decided that it was a neglected garden and therefore went ahead and started spraying weed killer over parts of it.  Why did she think that was acceptable, do you think? 

    Anyway, I'm thinking that perhaps it should be a wildlife habit or wild flower meadow.  I'm not sure what to do with it though, so any advice anyone can provide is helpful.  What's the easiest type of garden to maintain?

  • GuestGuest Posts: 10

    It isn't a shared garden but she has access along the pathway that is opposite to it, to get to her own garden.

  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 6,325

    wildflower meadows are beautiful and not too tricky to maintain (if you get a few basic principles right) but can be hard to establish, especially in an existing garden. It would probably be easier to plant suitable perennials and shrubs. 

    To make a wildlife friendly garden, make a small pond and/or bog garden, plant some small native trees like hawthorn, elder, crab apple and holly and plant perennial wildflowers like dog roses, cranesbills (geraniums), yarrow, cow parsley, ox-eye daisies and ferns and some tougher biennials like foxgloves and honesty. Don't keep the grass too tidy - or not all of it - remember stinging nettles and thistles may not be human friendly but birds and insects love them, make some hogitats and bug hotels (or just have a pile of old untreated wood somewhere). That sort of garden is easier to look after and also to make progressively than a meadow, which really needs to be done all at once and then cared for annually.

    Either could be beautiful though - it depends where your interest lies image

    Last edited: 03 July 2017 18:00:23

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • WateryWatery Posts: 388

    I think it's important to remember that you can't provide all habitats in one small garden.   The best thing you can do is avoid chemicals.   I don't think anyone in a small garden need to have nettles/thistles unless they like them.   Research (Buglife) shows butterflies need quite a large patch and there is no shortage of nettles other places for them.     

    Ponds are great but take some maintenance (as least annually).   

    How big is the area?  Is it sunny or shaded?

    I've been doing some garden maintenance this summer and so see lots of different gardens.   I see wildlife (birds mostly and evidence of fox/hedgehog) in all sorts of gardens.   Bird feeders (cleaned regularly) and some water (even a birdbath...again cleaned regularly) help.

     It's possible to have a lovely garden which is also very friendly to wildlife.   I think the other people on this thread have given you some good principles:

    -no chemicals

    -water sources

    -dead wood in a pile

    -lots of nectar-rich flowers


    -places to hide 

    I like this website in addition to the great ones previously given.

    Last edited: 03 July 2017 20:17:29

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