Increasing your garden's biodiversity can significantly benefit your mental and physical health. Studies show time and time again that humans innately feel less stressed and more relaxed when surrounded by nature. But, not everyone lives in the countryside surrounded by fields and forests. So, the best way to bring nature to you is to increase the biodiversity in your garden.

One psychological study showed that exposing yourself to nature can help with pain relief. A doctor named Roger Ulrich developed Stress Reduction Theory (SRT). In 1984 he studied patients at a hospital and how well they recovered from surgery. He found that the patients who could view nature and wildlife from their windows experienced less post-surgery pain and were friendlier to the hospital staff. Over the years, there have been multiple experiments studying the effects of nature on people, and in most cases, they point to wildlife having a positive impact on people. So, how do you increase the biodiversity in your garden?

Attract birds to your garden

Birds are a beautiful addition to a biodiverse garden. They can also help maintain your plants by managing the population of caterpillars and aphids. If you are looking for a biodiverse garden full of character, you must encourage birds into the space.

The best way to encourage birds into your garden is to provide them with a source of food. In most local supermarkets, you can pick up suet balls or bags of seeds. Feeding birds help them refuel and keep going, especially in the winter. As well as leaving out some food, consider including a bird bath in your garden design for birds to have a drink.

Lastly, as well as food and water, birds are constantly looking for somewhere safe to rest and lay their eggs. Most garden centres sell nest boxes that you can include in your garden design to further aid the birds in your garden. There are various nest boxes to choose from, all suited to different species of birds. The best part of your garden to place an open-fronted nest box or a small-holed nest box is in a quiet corner, high up and away from potential predators like cats. Consider putting your bird food close to your nest box so the birds, and particularly their young, never have to travel too far.

Include a variety of plants in your garden design

If you are looking for a biodiverse garden and want plenty of visitors to your home, you must design a garden similar to their natural habitat. You can still include a paved seating area or some raised decking in your garden design; however, you must include features integral to an ecosystem. For example, no animal or insect will want to visit your space without a selection of various plants and flowers to eat, pollinate or take shelter in.

To attract native wildlife into your garden, you need to include some native plant species in your design. The best plants and shrubs for your space are nectar-rich. Nectar will encourage bees into your garden. Bees are an endangered species, and we must all do our best to increase the population so that all our plants, flowers and vegetables continue pollinating. When choosing your plants, look for flowers where you can see the central part of the flower (this is where the pollen is stored). Open flowers tend to be easier for bees to collect pollen. Also, according to research, bees can see purple more distinctly than any other colour. Therefore, plants such as lavender and buddleia are excellent choices to attract bees.

Climber plants are also a brilliant plant choice for multiple reasons. Not only do they take up little soil space, but they can also cover unsightly features of your landscape. Although some climber plants you may need to support with a trellis, many climbers are self-sufficient and do not need a structure to cling on. Climber plants cater for more than just the bees. Although climber plants provide shelter for bees in the rain, they can also provide a home for butterflies to hibernate and birds to nest.

One of the simplest ways to increase the biodiversity in your garden is to let your grass, or a section of your grass, grow out and become wild. Studies tested the number of pollinators found in a recently mown lawn compared to a lawn that no one had mowed for a year. They found almost three times the number of pollinators in the grass that no one cut for a year. Also, consider creating a wildflower meadow with a section of your grass. Wild-flower meadows contain a wide variety of flowers that are brilliant for bees. As mentioned previously, bees are declining in population drastically, so we must do as much as possible to help shelter and feed them.

Build an insect hotel

Insects are crucial to a biodiverse garden for more reasons than one. Not only will bees pollinate your plants and flowers for you, but many insects are a food source for birds. Therefore, encouraging more insects into your garden will, in turn, aid the growth of your plants and encourage birds into your garden. One of the most popular ways to increase the number of insects in your garden is to build or purchase an insect hotel. An insect hotel is a man-made structure designed to create shelter for insects. An insect hotel can provide insects with a place to lay their eggs, and they can use the hotel when they are hibernating.

Similarly to an insect hotel, you can create a log pile in your garden to attract more insects. Fallen leaves and piles of twigs and logs provide a good hiding place for woodlice, worms, centipedes and many other insects.

Create a home for hedgehogs

Hedgehog House

Another benefit to adding a pile of twigs and logs into your garden is that it might encourage a hedgehog or two to take shelter. In the wild, hedgehogs build their own home with leaves, grass, twigs, branches, and anything else they can get their hands on. They make themselves a dark, secure shelter to hide away from any predators. A hedgehog's food supply of earthworms, beetles and earwigs can also be found under loads of sticks and leaves. So, increasing the biodiversity of insects in your garden will mean you're more likely to spot a hedgehog or two walking around.

Alternatively, you can purchase (or build) a hedgehog house for your garden. Most garden centres will sell a little wooden hut that you can place in your garden to attract hedgehogs. You should place the structure in the quietest corner of your garden with the most shade. Hedgehogs are pretty shy and do not want to be disturbed by any pets or children. It would be best if you also considered cutting a small gap in the bottom of your garden fence so that hedgehogs can enter and leave your property as they like. Hedgehogs are an endangered species, so purchasing a hedgehog house will not only increase the biodiversity in your garden but also keep them safe.

Build a pond

Building a pond in your garden dramatically increases the biodiversity in your garden. Not only can you now home fish, but the water will attract other creatures such as frogs. Ponds are an excellent water source for many wildlife; they will act like a magnet for all sorts of animals. Ponds come in many different shapes, sizes and styles. So, no matter how you have designed your garden, there will be a pond to suit.

Also, did you know that a pond can drastically improve your garden microclimate? Ponds can alter the temperature of your garden depending on its location. The water absorbs heat from the sun, which can then radiate into the surrounding area. Also, through reflection on the surface of the water, areas which beforehand received no sunlight could now be reached.

Ultimately, there are many ways in which you can increase the biodiversity in your garden, and we have only listed five. To find out more about wildlife in your garden and to speak to an expert, speak to one of our garden designers in Barnsley today! We work alongside many landscapers in Barnsley who have years of experience.

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