This myth has been thoroughly exploded by the many studies that have shown how randomly-selected ordinary gardens contain lots of wildlife. Have a look at our web page “How many species live in gardens
” and read the results from the Sheffield University Biodiversity in Urban Gardens (BUGS) studies1,2.
Ordinary gardens are naturally biodiverse for several reasons:
• Contrived plant diversity – people keep adding new plants
• Continuous change and disturbance which prevents a few species dominating
• Great variety of physical structure of vegetation, lawns, shrubs, trees, perennials and annuals close together
• There are many food webs in gardens
• Domestic lawns contain a surprising number of species
• Plenty of food supply – a high biomass and productivity of vegetation
• Many garden habitats mimic diverse semi-natural ones.
You can read more about these factors in our paper here
Ordinary gardens contain lots of species - even if you as a gardener don’t want them or are not interested! This is why the Wildlife Gardening Forum wants everyone to know how important gardens are for wildlife in Britain – as well as for people and society.
This doesn’t mean that there is no point in adding features to make your garden more attractive to wildlife. There is every reason – if you want – to add a pond, grow grass longer, and plant flowers, shrubs and trees for pollinators, birds and other creatures. But remember – even if you don’t – your garden is a haven for wildlife.
1. Thompson, K., Austin, K.C., Smith, R.H., Warren, P.H., Angold, P.G. & Gaston, K.J. 2003. Urban domestic gardens (I): Putting small-scale plant diversity in context. Journal of Vegetation Science 14, 71-78
2. Smith, R.M., Warren, P.H., Thompson, K. & Gaston, K.J. 2006. Urban domestic gardens (VI): environmental correlates of invertebrate species richness. Biodiversity and Conservation 15, 2415-2438.
Page written by Steve Head, reviewed by Ken Thompson