Gardening in small spaces
Even the smallest space can be a wildlife haven!
In fact, small gardens can even have their advantages. It is easier to design and maintain a small space and fewer plants are needed to create a colourful and pleasing effect. So, read on for some ideas on how to help wildlife in your mini garden!
Sketch a bird’s eye view plan of your space before deciding how to fill it. This will allow you to plan exactly what you can fit in to it so that you don’t run out of space before you’ve added everything you want. You won’t be able to fit everything in to your mini garden so choose your plants carefully. Don’t waste any space and make sure that every feature or plant has a purpose. Smaller spaces can become overcrowded very quickly so keep on top of any trimming that needs to be done. Try to avoid any species which might grow too large or too quickly or your mini garden may turn into a mini jungle!
Hanging a bird feeder or two will help to attract any small birds which may be nearby but make sure to clean them out regularly. If you own cats, hang your bird feeders high and out of their reach. A mini pond or birdbath will provide water for your visitors and attract more insects such as dragonflies. Bees will buzz across your garden for rosemary or lavender plants while butterflies will flutter around searching for nectar rich flowering plants like verbena or bowles’s mauve.
Even small spaces can house habitats for a range of creatures. Make or buy a bee or bug hotel to install in a sunny spot in your garden such as a wall or fence. In shady spots, a small log pile will create a great little habitat for invertebrates and small leaf litter piles can bring small animals like toads or hedgehogs into your space.
Use your boundaries
Cover walls or fences in climbers such as clematis or use hanging baskets or window boxes for maximum use of space. Put small leaf plants behind larger ones to create depth. Mimicking the skyline beyond your boundaries is a cheeky way of giving the illusion of a larger space. Plants with the same colours as trees or bushes beyond your fence are perfect for this.
Pot plants are perfect for small gardens, balconies or concrete ‘yardens’. Potted plants do need watering more regularly as they can dry out very quickly. Make sure you water the soil rather than the leaves or flowers. As blooms pass their prime becoming faded or shrivelled, make sure to snip them off or the plant will waste useful energy on them. Deadheading also keeps plant pots looking neat and healthy and can sometimes lead to second blooms.
If your space gets little sunlight, there is no point planting sun hungry plants as they won’t develop properly. For shady spots, try foxgloves, red campion or wood sage.
Containers are great for filling boring balcony or concrete covered spaces. If you are adding more than one plant type, make sure that their lighting, soil and water requirements are the same so that all can thrive. Create a colourful and textured container with two or three contrasting colours and a mixture of leaf types. Soften edges with plants that will spill over them for a more natural look. Make sure that your container has a drain hole in the bottom.
Pesticides don’t just kill the intended pests, but other insects and anything that feeds on them too. So shun pesticides and instead, check out our guide to wildlife friendly pest control!
Remember, you don’t need to do everything at once and even small steps can make an enormous difference to your wildlife garden. Have fun trying a few things out to make the best use of the space you have available!