Fourteen ways to make space for nature this summer
We're well aware of the mental and physical health benefits from spending time in nature, but caring for nature not only helps us, it can also help tackle climate change, ensuring a healthier and greener Scotland.
1. Go natural
If you have paving, artificial grass or gravel in your garden, think about adding flowering pots or window boxes to encourage pollinators and other beasties to take refuge, and act as stepping stones for wildlife around urban areas. Help alleviate flooding in your local area by reducing the amount of paving in your garden.
2. Mow less
And make a butterfly border. Reduce mowing to create an undisturbed wildflower patch, strip or meadow, and encourage your council to do the same at suitable green spaces. These create natural corridors for wildlife to move through towns and cities, and will continue to be important as our climate changes.
3. Love weeds
Weeds may traditionally have a bad name, but many, such as dandelions provide food for all types of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies and beetles. Think of them as amazingly resilient wildflowers - rather than weeds! Get out a magnifying glass or take a close up photo to see how beautiful they are.
4. Start small
Many plants do well in containers such as window boxes, pots and hanging baskets. Herbs such as lavender, rosemary, sage and thyme are popular with pollinators, and brighten life up!
5. Hedge not fence
Hedgerows offer a habitat that fences can't match. Plant flowering trees and shrubs such as hazel, willow, blackthorn and hawthorn - these also allow wildlife to move through gardens.
6. Share cuttings
Plants and seeds can be expensive, but for many pollinator friendly species, existing plants can be divided or new plants can be grown from cuttings and shared with friends and neighbours.
7. Be a lazy gardener
Allow vegetation to dieback naturally - leave twigs, leaves and natural debris as shelter for insects and other wildlife. Leave seedheads - a food source for birds and homes for insects.
8. Help local birds
Add a bird box and feeders to your garden or outdoor space. Feeders that attach to windows are available, and are a great way to observe local birds, particularly if you don't have a garden or are housebound. Chicks need protein to grow quickly so having more flowers to attract insects helps, and adding meal worms to bird feeders provides a snack for hungry chicks!
9. Feed the soil
63% of the total carbon locked in our soil is found in our peatlands - help conserve them by using only peat-free garden products. Use local farmyard manures and composts, or make your own. Avoid pesticides – great alternatives are available. Take a closer look, observe the wee beasties helping recycle our waste, control pests, and keep the nutrient cycle running.
10. Litter pick or beach clean
When outdoors take a bag and pair of gloves and where safe to do so dispose of litter you find. Whether in our oceans, parks, rivers, or woods, it's dangerous to wildlife - animals get trapped or try to eat it. Much of our waste doesn’t biodegrade so will stay in our natural environment for years! Get neighbours, friends and family involved and clean up your area.
11. Provide water
Ponds attract lots of wildlife including frogs, newts, dragonflies, birds and more, and help sustainably manage water in intense rainfall. A pond doesn’t have to be a big outlay, even using an old washing up bowl of water or deep saucer of water on a windowsill can help.
12. Explore underwater
With 41% of Scotland’s population living within 5km of the coast, there’s likely a great rock pooling site near you. Walk or cycle your net and buckets to the water’s edge and see what you can find hiding between the rocks. Remember to put anything back you find.
13. Be a citizen scientist
Get involved in this fun way to help your favourite wildlife. Submit sightings of birds, frogs, butterflies and more to let us know where wildlife is (and isn’t) and contribute to biodiversity and climate change research. Find something suitable on our list of projects.
14. Volunteer near and far
This can be a fun way to make a difference, meet new friends and get outdoors. Find out more about our volunteering opportunities, or search on the Volunteer Scotland website. Take inspiration from projects helping communities manage their local green spaces or start your own.