Your guide to a natural garden

Would you like your garden to hum and buzz, birds to chirp and hedgehogs to scurry through your legs on their evening forays? Then follow our guide to an environmentally friendly and natural garden.

Your natural garden could look like this

Open ground instead of sealed surfaces

Gravel beds, asphalted driveways and similar sealed surfaces harbor little to no life, but once laid out, they often require little maintenance and thus primarily meet people’s needs. The alternatives are not more complex, are often cheaper, allow rainwater to seep away and, above all, provide a habitat for animals and plants. The options are versatile, numerous and visually very appealing. A driveway does not have to be completely sealed. It would be sufficient to cover the lane strips with grass pavers. Paths in the garden can be created using smart, non-grouted stepping stones. And even natural stone walls do not need to be mortared. The deliberately preserved spaces not only provide a place in the garden for frugal plants, but also invite all kinds of creepy-crawlies to linger. In this way, human benefit would be achieved with minimal effort and the soil could “breathe”, plants could grow, insects could crawl and predators such as hedgehogs and blackbirds could hunt for them.

Open floors instead of sealed surfaces

Recycling soils and building materials

New construction and renovation measures often lead to supposed “construction waste”. But there is a second chance in many of these substances. There is no need to dig up new topsoil to create flowering beds. Topsoil usually contains root residues and seeds of so-called weeds, such as nettle and ground elder, which even natural gardeners can do without. Although stinging nettle is an important nutrient plant for the caterpillars of numerous native butterflies, it also quickly overgrows large areas and in turn reduces diversity in the garden. Many of our plants are often less demanding than we expect. Species such as iris, common yarrow or the round-leaved bellflower prefer poor soils. These sandy and loamy soils can also be enriched with nutrients by adding humus. Other building by-products include broken bricks and field stones. The use here ranges from non-visible filling floors, bed edging or traditionally arranged natural stone walls.

Composting is also a wonderful way to recycle

Roof greening

The roofs of carports, sheds and even the smallest dog kennels are suitable for greening. Here, too, the measures to be taken are limited. With the help of guides, you can also green roofs yourself with less demanding plants such as stonecrop, houseleek, camomile and marjoram. In this way, a wasteland that was previously thought to be dead is transformed into a flourishing paradise.

Native species instead of foreign exotics

As much as they remind us of places of longing, their added value for our native fauna is minimal. Exotic plants such as palm trees, bamboo and the like will not keep our gardens alive. It is viper’s bugloss, mullein and cat’s paw that attract our pollinators and help the gardens to thrive. Native plants that have been in symbiosis with the local fauna for thousands of years and longer. We can only preserve these systems, which have evolved over centuries and millennia, if we value our native species more and give them the space they deserve in our gardens.

Wild instead of cultivated forms

Many roses bred for visual appeal, for example, may look attractive and give the impression of providing plenty of nectar for insects, but their flowers are often inaccessible to bees and the like. Many people consider double flowers to be particularly aesthetic. However, it is precisely these additional petals generated by breeding that make it impossible for pollinators to reach the nectar. The option would be wild roses. The examples of such “optimization” of plants are numerous and not every wildflower mixture in the DIY store can guarantee the promise of “wildness”. But they still exist, our native wild forms.

A bee enjoys the benefits of the wild rose

Diversity instead of simplicity

This guiding principle seems to require little explanation. If we want to attract as many different animal species as possible to our garden, we need an equally diverse range of food. You can find a comprehensive list of various native and insect-friendly plants here.

No chemicals

Herbicides, insecticides, pesticides and often unnecessary artificial fertilizers are taboo. This should be clear to anyone who has followed our guide to this point. The use of such agents plays a major role in the fact that species are on the brink of extinction worldwide or are already considered extinct. In contrast to agriculture, no one forces us to maximize yields in the garden. Only the diversity of species and the pleasure of observing them should be maximized.

Nesting aids, feeders and insect hotels

Unnecessary in an intact natural environment, but a useful aid in our cultivated landscape. Whether they are food dispensers for songbirds, nesting aids for solitary wild bees or hibernation quarters for bats and dormice, what they all have in common is that they are readily accepted, provide the animals with an adequate or even vital substitute and are inexpensive to make yourself.

Each species has different requirements for these quarters. Nature itself offers species-appropriate inspiration. Criteria to be considered for such replicas are the size and orientation of the entrance hole, height of the nest box, size and shape of the nest box, placement in the garden or possibly on the house, construction method, distance to the next box. Some species are more flexible in their choice of housing. Others, such as bats, have very specific requirements that must be met.

Blue tits and great spotted woodpeckers like to fortify themselves at the feeders we offer

However, the following applies to all shelters: the materials should be untreated, the building should be draught-free and splinters and sharp edges should be avoided. Many of the criteria mentioned also apply to insect hotels, but the design is different due to the size of the animals. Many of them would be content with a corner filled with supposed deadwood.

The trade already offers an attractive selection of feeders and houses, which can also serve as inspiration for a replica. Feed dispensers where the animals cannot walk around in the feed and soil it with droppings are particularly recommended. In this way, you minimize the transmission and spread of pathogens. Typically, they are fed in winter from November to the end of February. During this time, the food supply is much more limited and so a well-stocked feeder is often approached. Sunflower seeds and already shelled peanuts are particularly popular with granivores such as tits, sparrows and finches. For soft feed eaters such as blackbirds and robins, for example, raisins, fruit and oatmeal are recommended. The basic rule is: only as much as you have to and never more than you should. After all, a natural garden has plenty of other treats in store for our feathered friends.

Water dispensers and ponds

Water doesn’t just magically attract us humans. By creating a garden pond that is close to nature, we ensure a diverse plant world and attract numerous animals to and into the pond. If you don’t have the space for one, you can offer a water bowl or a small fountain. Numerous birds and insects will also use this. But if you want to experience frogs, fish, dragonflies and the like on a daily basis, there’s no getting around a pond. But here, too, there are a few things to bear in mind when considering a near-natural biotope. The riverbank area should flow smoothly into the surrounding area. In this way, we create a natural connection between the elements and allow amphibians to live out their natural behavior. In order to accommodate as many different species as possible, different water depths and an outflowing bank area should be planned. The correct planting of oxygen-producing plants is also important. Frog spoons, hornworts, water lilies and the like can make filter systems superfluous under certain circumstances. Stocking with fish should also be carefully considered. If you want to design your pond from an ecological point of view, you should avoid koi carp and goldfish, as these eat the spawn of amphibians. Small fish such as sticklebacks, on the other hand, adjust automatically and are part of it. Their spawn is often introduced via the plumage of waterfowl. In general, many components adjust themselves if we just let nature do its thing.

This garden pond, already overgrown with irises, is home to a variety of smaller and larger pond dwellers

Avoid light pollution

Artificial light is a stress factor for nature that many species cannot adapt to.

Swarms of insects around artificial light sources are a familiar sight. These sources are often disastrous because they weaken the insects’ ability to orient themselves and magically attract them. But birds, mammals and even fish are also considerably disturbed in their way of life. Our sphere of influence is also limited in this respect, but it does exist. Constantly lit lamps should be avoided. Lamps linked to motion sensors not only reduce light pollution but also save electricity. In addition, the scattering loss of the lamp should be as low as possible and the light intensity adapted to the situation.

Inspire others

Science has an answer to pretty much every problem caused by humans. It is up to us to communicate this and set a good example. This is the only way we can turn lone fighters into a movement for the preservation of our Mother Nature. A movement that germinates in our heads, grows in our gardens and then blossoms in our parliaments.

A movement that germinates in our heads, grows in our gardens and then blossoms in our parliaments.

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