If you’ve put the lawnmower away for the year and need an excuse not to get it out again next spring, you might like to convert to the new trend of ‘re-wilding’. The eco-conscious amongst us have begun to allow gardens and surrounding land to become a wild meadow, with hopes of creating a space with abundant wildflowers to benefit pollinators.
However, what’s good for wildlife and those of us with less time for garden maintenance, could potentially damage your reputation with the neighbours and affect property prices?
As homeowners and property developers follow the trend, a garden that looks scruffy and unkempt can lower the tone of a neighbourhood. Estate agents warn that allowing land, whether a small garden or a few acres, to become wild could cause rows between neighbours, as not everyone shares the joy of an uncontrolled environment and some see it as unsightly.
Director of Stacks Property Search, James Law, said: “The concept of restoring natural processes to large areas of the countryside would seem on the face of it hard to criticise but some see it as anti-farming, and others simply maintain that it doesn’t make any difference.”
The idea of ‘re-wilding’ is most likely here to stay, with celebrity endorsements from the likes of writer and TV presenter, Kate Bradbury, who recently appeared on Springwatch to show how she had transformed her own garden into a flower meadow with a little pond.
Local authorities in some areas of the UK have even stopped cutting grass verges and hedges as regularly as usual to create more natural habitat for wildlife and encourage the breeding of invertebrates. Even the Chelsea Flower Show, with its traditionally manicured lawns and beautifully kept flower beds, has in parts moved in favour of the wilder look.
Leading ecologists have urged home owners with gardens to let their lawns grow wild for bees and other insects to attract birds and small animals, and support more wildlife in urban areas.
James Law warned: “Home owners and buyers who are seeking a more environmental approach to managing their garden and land can quickly come up against resistance from neighbours who think that a paddock should contain sheep or ponies, that brambles are the enemy, that lawns should be weed-free and mown weekly, and moles are absolutely not welcome visitors.
“When buyers talk to us about their rewilding plans for a new plot, we do advise them to look carefully at the geography of their new home. If they are serious about an unmanaged approach, they should be conscious of neighbouring properties, and it might be advisable to do some local PR in advance, explaining their thinking and what they are looking to achieve. On a small scale, rewilding probably has to be more managed than it would be on hundreds of acres, but as with all things there can be a good balance.”
There are many ways in which you can dedicate an area of your garden to encourage wildlife on a small scale. Simply leaving your grass uncut is unlikely to help as most suburban lawns planted after 1950 used rye grass, which creates a durable and hard-wearing lawn but doesn’t attract wildlife.
If you are looking to have a small haven for wildlife to encourage all different types of wildlife, insects and small creatures, read this advice from the RHS. A garden such as this can still be pretty but it will need management, especially if you want to protect the value of your property and keep the neighbours happy!
Read our advice on invasive species Japanese Knotweed.