How to make the most of your outdoor space
It’s no secret that being outside can positively impact our lives, in fact, spending at least two hours a week close to nature can lead to a significant improvement in both our physical and mental wellbeing. So, with summer quickly approaching, and the weather warming up, now is the perfect time of year to get out in your garden or communal area and soak up the benefits that the great outdoors has to offer! Dan Salliss, our Ecology Champion, is here to share some of his top tips for making the most of your outside space.
"The communal areas near your home aren’t just there to add a bit of greenery to your neighbourhood but are for you to use and enjoy", said Dan. "Why not make the most of these areas on a sunny day by having a picnic, or use them as a place to meet for a catch-up with your neighbours? Take a few moments to really notice what you can see and hear around you. What different plants are there? Are there any insects using them as a place to live or eat? What birds can you see or hear? Why not go on a bug hunt around your neighbourhood or see how many different flowers and trees you can name? You’ll be amazed at the different things you start to notice!"
"If you have access to a garden and a little spare time, why not give nature a helping hand? After all, the better your garden is for nature, the healthier it is for you! Even the smallest gardens can act as a safe haven for plants and wildlife, and so are especially important considering the worrying declines in biodiversity we’re seeing across the globe. The small things you do at home can have a big impact."
Let it grow
Letting a section of your lawn grow longer throughout the summer can provide an important habitat for bugs and insects. This also creates a great place for birds to find a tasty meal and will bring more colour into your garden, in the form of wildflowers. It’s a win win for everyone – you save time and lower your energy costs whilst creating a home for nature.
Add some colour
Planting native flowering plants in your garden will provide food for bees and butterflies and help them do their important job of pollinating other places. Even better, if you add plants that flower or fruit at different times of the year, you can provide food and nectar for insects and birds for a long time.
Don’t worry about weeds
Believe it or not, some plants such as nettles, dandelions, and brambles, are really important for nature! Although these might seem a nuisance, they provide food and shelter for birds and hedgehogs, as well as nectar for bees and butterflies.
Create a home
There are many ways you can create a home for nature in your garden. Adding bird feeders or baths will give our feathered friends a place to eat, drink and cool down in the summer heat, and by leaving piles of dead logs, twigs or leaves you’ll create a great place for beetles and spiders to live and feed. You could even add a shallow pond to your garden to create a home for frogs and other amphibians, as well as a place for birds to cool down and grab a drink.
If you use compost, use peat-free compost, as extracting peat from the land destroys valuable habitats and contributes to climate change. If you want to go the extra mile, you could make your own compost! To give your plants a drink use a container in your garden to collect rainwater, instead of using water in your home. This is much better for the planet and will save you money on your water bill.
Protecting nature starts with you
"We’re really keen to do our bit for nature and make our communities more sustainable", explained Dan. "Whether it’s letting some areas of grass grow longer, or making your own compost, we want to bring nature closer to our tenants.
"Nature needs us now more than ever, and our gardens, big or small, can be hugely important in giving biodiversity the help it needs. In return, nature provides us with everything from the air we breathe, to the food we eat. Biodiversity is so important for our own health, so it’s vital that we cherish and protect it."
If you want to find out more about inviting wildlife into your garden, organisations such as the RSPB or National Trust have plenty of information and guidance online. Why not try out a couple of the things we mention here? Let us know how it goes and what you see in your garden!