Create a Haven for Wildlife

New guide shows how to look after wildlife in your garden

A new free booklet entitled “Gardening for Biodiversity” aimed at encouraging everyone to promote wildlife in their gardens has been launched. The brainchild of Juanita Browne, the booklet was produced by Local Authority Heritage Officers across Ireland, with help from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Heritage Council.

Taking a very practical approach, the booklet details projects to help wildlife of all kinds under a range of headings, with tasks suitable for everyone from the total beginner to the more ambitious DIY enthusiast. With clear instructions and step-by-step drawings by illustrator Barry Reynolds, the guide offers the gardener lots of options to help our biodiversity no matter how big or small your garden is.

Speaking about the booklet Charles Duggan, Dublin City Heritage Officer, said “At this time when we are homebound we have a unique opportunity to discover the world beneath our feet, in our back gardens and locality. Gardening for Biodiversity beautifully illustrates the abundance of wildlife that can exist in our gardens and provides many ideas families can do at home to support biodiversity.”

Lorraine Bull, Dublin City Biodiversity Officer, said “We welcome this new guide, which encourages promoting biodiversity and the importance of private gardens for wildlife. As part of our City Biodiversity Action Plan, we work with community groups to encourage people to improve their local area for biodiversity, and are developing a specific guide for city gardens."

With increasing urbanisation, gardens have become an oasis for wildlife, and with small changes we can make them even better. The guide outlines actions that can be taken to improve gardens for birds, bees, butterflies, bats and more, and the good news is many of the steps that can be taken are really easy. Just leaving an “untidy” corner of your garden for nature, leaving roadside verges to grow naturally or allowing some of the gold star plants for biodiversity - dandelion, willow, bramble, clover and ivy - a spot in your garden can reap huge dividends for wildlife.

Author of the guide, Juanita Browne said “I hope that this simple guide to gardening with biodiversity in mind will help all of us to create gardens that are more wildlife-friendly. Gardening for biodiversity doesn’t equate to letting your garden go wild, but simply doing things a little differently. For instance, when choosing plants to buy in a garden centre, perhaps you could choose plants that have insects on their flowers. Or you could create a wildflower strip around your lawn where dandelions, daisies, clover and other wildflowers are allowed to grow. These small changes can bring huge benefits for biodiversity”

For the more adventurous the booklet contains step-by-step guidance on how to build a bird bath, create a log pile for hedgehogs and mini beasts, and how to install a pond or bog garden. With an estimated 2 million gardens in this country, action by just some of those gardeners could make a huge difference for our native wildlife.

But it won’t just benefit the biodiversity. There is increasing evidence that time spent in nature is good for our own mental health and well-being too. As more of us spend time closer to home, regular contact with the natural world has become ever more important. A 2016 World Health Organisation review found that urban green spaces, such as parks, playgrounds, and gardens, can promote mental and physical health, and reduce morbidity and mortality in urban residents by providing psychological relaxation and stress alleviation, stimulating social cohesion, supporting physical activity and reducing exposure to air pollutants, noise and excessive heat.

“Gardening for Biodiversity”, funded by the Department for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht as part of an initiative to encourage projects under the National Biodiversity Action Plan, is available to download here https://bit.ly/2KXXQiq

Free hard copies of the booklet will be posted to people living in Dublin on request from

E: heritage@dublincity.ie.

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