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How to help wildlife in unused 125m2 garden area

log5hdy22log5hdy22 Posts: 4
edited August 2022 in Wildlife gardening

I'm looking for some advice, please.

I have my first garden and it's bigger than any garden I ever imagined I'd own :# I'm at the very early stages of learning and I'm enjoying it immensely!

I have a piece of ground that I hope will become a veg patch complete with polytunnel but that will be some time away and so I'd like to use the ground productively to support wildlife while I focus on the rest of the garden.

It's about 125m2 and it has been filled last year with amazing compost from a local composting site. It's very fertile and I'm sorry to say that the weeds have won- thistles and docken seem to dominate. If I could turn back time :'(

I initally thought a wildflower meadow makes sense but I mostly read that it needs to be poor soil! I need the soil to remain as fertile as possible for the eventual veg patch and so this seems to knock that idea out.

Grass would be an easy way to maintain it but it just seems like such a waste.

Does anyone have any insights or ideas?

Thank you in advance for any of your suggestions and for sharing your knowledge with me. I hope in a few years (or more) as I gain knowledge that I can help one day too!

- K


  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,909
    Ironically, l think generally speaking thistles are good for wildlife, but l can appreciate why you wouldn't want 125 sq metres of them  :)

    Is there any chance that you could post a couple of photos just to give some idea of what you are dealing with? 
    (Bear in mind it might be necessary to make them a little smaller before posting, there's an annoying forum glitch that causes photos to turn out sideways occasionally). 

    There are many flowering perennials that are ideal for wildlife, also annuals, although it's too late in the year now.
    Is the site sunny or shady ?
    I think a lot depends on how your progress with the veg patch turns out. It might be worth preparing that first (leaving the polytunnel for now), but if you have a family to consider l can understand why you'd want to leave it and concentrate on other areas.

    There is plenty of advice available on this forum, l'm sure you will get some answers to your dilemma  :)
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,626
    Thistles tend to have deep tap roots and need to be lifted and dug out thoroughly as any bits of root left behind will grow and multiply - been there and done that as OH didn't listen.....  Now he knows!

    Then you could replace them with pollinator friendly plants such as members of the daisy family - echinaceas, rudbeckias etc.  See here for more -

    Alternatively you could clear that area and then sow some phacelia which is used as a green manure which would be good for your future veg plot but also great for wildlife.  It will self seed or can be re-sown until you're ready to work that area.

    However, one of the most important things you can do is provide water, even if it's just a shallow dish with a stone in it so insects, small mammals and birds can drink and bath - a vital resource in dry spells. 
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • FireFire Posts: 17,308
    edited August 2022
    Is the land twelve metres x ten metres
    or 125m x 125m?
  • log5hdy22log5hdy22 Posts: 4
    edited August 2022
    Hello everyone, thanks for your comments!

    It's a very exposed site and no defined boundaries yet like a hedge to protect against wind. Plenty of sun with nothing to really overshadow it.

    It's about 25m by 5m.

    Phacelia sounds ideal! It would keep it manageable and ready for use in the future.

    Dreading battling the thistles...


  • FireFire Posts: 17,308
    Are you wanting to flowering plants for wildlife that will bloom this year? Where in the country are you?
  • FireFire Posts: 17,308
    edited August 2022
  • I don't mind if there isn't much flowering this year as it'll take a good bit of work to clear it and prepare it. Really looking for something that would keep the area manageable and ready to use in the future while also beneficial to wildlife.

    We're on the North East coast of Scotland.


  • FireFire Posts: 17,308
    A good place to start can be the edges and boundaries. Do you have plans for those? Is it an exposed area - wind, snow?
  • I was thinking evergreen hedges to combat the wind and give shelter and maybe nesting for birds.

    It's can be pretty windy. Not bad for snow either, with very little frost. It's drier than you would expect for Scotland, but enough rain that we haven't had to water regularly despite the heat this summer.

    Hope that helps :):smiley:
  • FireFire Posts: 17,308
    edited August 2022
    For wildlife, mixed native hedging might be good - flowering and fruiting - hawthorn, crab apple; also elder, rowan, (dwarf) fruit trees. There are plenty of perennial and annual flowering plants that are great for wildlife.

    It can be good to have a meadow area - there are now any number of specific wild flower mixes now for specific conditions. You could get a mix for fertile meadows. You might want to strip back the turf so that grasses compete less, else grasses will always win out and over dominate.

    Nesting places, cover, water, fruit, diversity of conditions are all helpful to wildlife. You could try for short grass/long grass/no grass mix, exposed ground, wood heaps, pond.

    Kate Bradbury (GW) and  Dave Goulson (Sussex Uni) have written extensively on the subject of bringing wildlife to gardens. They also do talks, podcasts and videos on the subject.

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