Turning a simple garden into an ecological garden allows one to provide it with additional diversity. Each area will be organized differently so that, on a small scale, flora and fauna live together in harmony. In the end, it is not expensive  and remains above all a pleasant place to live. To go about it, mix both plant and animal species depending on their respective needs and let nature do the rest of the work.

When you build a house, the construction sets in at the expense of the environment in which it is established. In spite of this, we can resolve this issue by preserving a part of the existing biodiversity, all the while taking action to promote the return of the original biotope. To do this, we can start by revegetating the roof and fences, installing natural or artificial nests, setting up a nearly natural lighting system, limiting yard work to the bare minimum to help animals and plants to grow naturally, using natural pesticides instead of chemicals and not covering garden paths with asphalt. To attract animals, simply build biotopes resembling their wild habitats, such as ponds and hedges, and create a variety of caches that will serve as shelter. Hedges, flower beds and shrubs attract insects quickly. Small reptiles such as salamanders, frogs and toads and insects like dragonflies find shelter and food in man-made bodies of water. Even an old root or a bundle of sticks will be useful for pollinating insects such as bees. A pile of bricks or large stones dry welcome hordes of heat-loving insects. You can also train a façade with climbing plants and the roof with special grass.

Favouring the coexistence of animals and plants

In a biological garden, it is useless to feed the animals or to maintain the plants since they must survive naturally. However, if you want the biodiversity to perpetuate, you need to arrange every corner so that wildlife finds a nurturing source and refuge among the installed vegetation. For example, forests of shrubs and trees are an infinite source of food for birds and insects that will stimulate the movement of pollen and thus, indirectly, the flowering and fruiting processes. Plant different varieties of shrubs such as European wild apple, gooseberry, cherry tree, hawthorn, blackthorn, beech, and firethorn because birds will enjoy their fruits. Climbing plants such as ivy, Virginia creeper or honeysuckle will provide foot and shelter for birds as well. Do not prune some invading species present in flower beds such as asters, sunflowers and cosmos because their seeds will feed birds at the start of the frost period. In addition, let some of your hedges grow so that bees can settle in, perpetuate pollination and, in the same vein, produce honey. Bees also contribute in the propagation of new plants. Regarding the lawn, leave about 11 square feet (1 m²) of grass unmowed to allow ants to build their nest. If you have a pond, incorporate aquatic plants to recreate a natural ecosystem for amphibians. You may also use it to raise fish that will feed primarily on plant roots or on insects that venture to the water’s surface.

The benefits of biodiversity in a garden

By setting up a biological garden, you somehow recreate a natural ecosystem. The presence of several varieties of plants helps prevent the spread of diseases and parasites. In the end, there is no need to use pesticides to get rid of harmful insects such as mosquitoes and their eggs or rodents because birds will do the job. Moreover, lizards will fight effectively against the invasions of mites and aphids. A lawn will also provide hedgehogs with plenty of food, as they feed on snails, slugs and insect larvae. Although the idea is to initiate a whole new ecosystem, take into consideration that setting up a biological garden also consists of  recreating a natural food chain.

Precautions to take to preserve the garden’s ecosystem

Instead of mowing the grass once a week, it is best to mow it seven times a year to allow crawling insects to live there. Avoid overcutting nettles as well because they provide a habitat suitable to the proliferation of butterflies, a species that is currently endangered. Instead of resorting to a concrete wall, it is advisable to build one with stones to create a living space for small animals. Of course, woody plants need to be severely pruned from time to time but they must be spaced out enough so as not to scare off birds, particularly during the laying period. Do not dispose of the waste after the mowing and pruning procedures are completed. Instead, make a bin for composting left-over debris. Myriapods and earthworms can efficiently decompose garden rubbish and will provide you with high-quality organic compost. The use of chemical fertilizers stimulates the growth of flora at the expense of other less vigorous species. In regard to vegetable gardens, it is also recommended to grow varieties of local fruits and vegetables that will easily adapt to the type of soil and natural environment. In this case, luxuriant plants are excluded from the organic garden. Moreover, remember not to include foreign species in the garden because they will struggle to withstand such a radical change, especially if your garden’s environment has nothing in common with their natural habitat.

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Published in Organic by Alexander on 06 Sep 2011