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How to help at home

There are lots of things people can do to help improve biodiversity in the borough. You can do this by being responsible owners in your home.

If managed well, gardens can provide a rich habitat to a wealth of species in Kingston. This not only includes garden birds that adorn bird feeders, but also hedgehogs snuffling amongst the undergrowth, butterflies wafting around on warm summer's breeze and even a charismatic stag beetle clumsily flying around on a late evening in May.

By making your garden a friendly place for wildlife you can actively help to stop species going locally extinct.

The impact of climate change on these habitats and species is already being felt. Some natural processes like leaves falling from trees, flowers blooming and birds laying eggs are taking place much earlier in the year than ever before. Food sources like fruit, which some wild animals rely on to help them through winter, are also ripening and falling to the ground earlier in the year.

The Gardening in a Changing Climate report from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) lists a number of practical actions to help look after biodiversity while gardening.

Plant a diverse range of plants in your garden
Earlier flowering might disrupt host–pollinator associations, so plant a diverse variety of pollinator friendly plants with different flowering times.

Water use and management in gardens
Use water butts with a larger than standard capacity to ensure a sufficient water supply over the summer. Select plants and design strategies better suited to the environment.

Avoid peat
Peatlands store considerable amounts of carbon. Look, ask for and use peat–free composts. There are now some high quality products out there that work. 

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Adopt a combination of good plant biosecurity, biological, cultural and chemical controls in order to minimise the spread of pests and diseases.

Invasive Species
Gardeners should ensure that their cultivated plants remain in the garden, and that legislation is adhered to during plant disposal.
Other things that you could do include:

Creating small ponds
Even a small garden pond can provide a wonderful habitat for a variety of plant and animal species, providing a source of drinking and bathing water for birds and mammals, as well as food for insects.

Planting for butterflies
Butterfly populations have been declining in recent years but it’s easy to create space in the garden to help attract and increase butterfly numbers. Visit the Butterfly Conservation website for a range of advice to help get you started.

Rewilding your garden
Aside from giving your mower a break, letting your garden (or part of it)  grow wild has many positive benefits, from attracting pollinators and providing them with food sources. Take a look at the RHS website to see what makes rewilding so great.

Bug hotels
Wildlife and bug hotels are really helpful ways of helping increase biodiversity which give insects and small animals somewhere safe to shelter. They are also really easy to make at home - visit the RSPB website for an easy to follow guide.

Hedgehog holes
Kingston is home to a number of friendly but elusive hedgehogs. However, they need our help getting around the borough safely while searching for food, company and somewhere to nest. Have a chat with your neighbours about creating small hedgehog holes to help them travel the 1km they take each night. Find out more on the Wildlife Trust’s website. 

Bird and bat boxes
We can help birds and bats by providing safe nesting spots for them in our gardens.

Having 'bat friendly' lighting 
Bats are nocturnal which means they avoid daylight and only venture out at night, avoiding predators that are usually out during the day. Artificial lights can be really disruptive to bats because they reduce the amount of places, and time, that they can go to look for food. You can find out about bat friendly lighting on the Bat Conservation Trust’s website.

Planting and protecting hedgerows 
Hedgerows are really important for a large range of plants and wildlife, providing food throughout the year and flowers to pollinate. Not only that, but they also provide shelter, capture pollutants, store carbon and provide homes for many species. Find out how you can grow and manage hedgerows on the Wildlife Trust’s website.

If you don’t have access to a garden you could consider planting window boxes or joining a local community growing project - search online for local groups near you.

Last Modified: 13/09/2023 12:04:29