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The Attenborough effect: How to make your garden more eco-friendly

A 53% reduction of single-use plastics in the UK with the Attenborough effect

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After the huge success of hit David Attenborough shows like ‘Blue Planet’ and Netflix’s ‘Our Planet’, UK consumers have made a switch to more eco-friendly habits, leading to a 53% reduction in single-use plastics between April 2018–2019, which retailers are dubbing the Attenborough effect (Global Web Index). And it’s not just our shopping habits which have changed, with this year’s Chelsea Flower Show indicating that eco-friendly and wildlife gardens are set to be a big trend. In this article, Nicky Roeber tells you how you can adopt the Attenborough effect and turn your garden into an environmentally friendly haven.

In this article, I tell you how you can adopt the Attenborough effect and turn your garden into an environmentally friendly haven. Some of the key ideas are to choose native plants, to become more creative by upcycling more for your garden, to choose eco-friendly materials as well as saving water!

Choose native plants

To make your garden more eco-friendly, you should fill it with native plants to attract and support local wildlife. Pollinators like bees and butterflies love flowers that are rich in nectar, like geranium and lavender, so plant these in your garden to encourage your local bee population. You could also add an insect and bee house to give them a place to nest in the winter.

Native UK birds like to have a mixture of trees and grasses for them to nest in and forage for food, so shrubs like hawthorn and trees like wild cherry and oak are perfect for attracting birds — you may even see a few squirrels running around, too! Your garden will also benefit from having birds, as they’ll eat flies and caterpillars.

Because ladybirds eat a wide variety of pests, like green and black flies, you could try planting herbs like dill, chives and coriander to attract native ladybird species into your garden. 

The Attenborough effect Blue Planet and How to make your garden more eco-friendly

Reuse and recycle old items

Instead of throwing things away, why not recycle them into pots and planters for your garden. This gives you a great opportunity to showcase your individual style and make your garden your own. You could decorate old car tyres and use them as flowerbeds or make planters from old shoes or teacups. Whatever you decide to use, this is your chance to let your creativity shine.

Opt for eco-friendly materials for your garden

When it comes to building garden structures, you’ll want to choose locally sourced materials, which can reduce your carbon footprint as they haven’t had to travel very far to get to you. You can usually find these materials by visiting local scrap and reclamation yards.

For wood, opt for pieces that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). This will mean that they’ve been sourced from a certified sustainable plantation.

You can also use a mixture of clay, sand, straw and water to make a material known as cob. This can be used to build sturdy, organic walls for buildings, dividers, flowerbeds or even barbeques.

The Attenborough effect Blue Planet and How to make your garden more eco-friendly

Save water in your garden

You can easily conserve water in your garden — especially if you live somewhere that gets a lot of wet weather. Collect rainwater in water butts or other containers and then use this to water your plants. If you’re not doing so already, you should only water the roots of the plant to avoid wasting water on the leaves (where the plant won’t absorb it).

Try planting a rain garden to catch the rainwater run-off from your roof. You could even mix in some mulch, rotting leaves or homemade compost with your soil to improve the structure and help it retain moisture, meaning you won’t need to water as much.

By growing native plants, using sustainable materials, conserving water and avoiding chemicals, you can hop on board the eco-friendly trend and help to save the planet. Just take these steps and you’re well on your way to making your garden more environmentally friendly.

What has been the experience with the Attenborough effect within your community? We’d love to hear so please share it with us on the comments below!

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Nicky Roeber

Nicky Roeber is the Online Horticultural Expert at Wyevale Garden Centres, where he has worked for the last seven years. As a graduate in Environmental Science, he has over 20 year’s horticultural experience. After helping to develop one of the industry’s first online garden centres in 2000, which allowed users to order plants over the web, he has a keen interest in the commercial side of gardening.

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