Introduction to garden habitats
by Steve Head
We have seen in The Garden Resource
that looked at collectively, our gardens are an enormous resource for wildlife.
The “garden habitat” is also exceedingly rich and biodiverse, as shown in the section Gardens and Biodiversity
. But one of the reasons for this high biodiversity is that gardens are not a uniform habitat, but contain lots of mini-habitats in close proximity. Few gardens don’t have a bit of lawn, a veggie patch, flower beds, perhaps a hedge and a shrub or small tree, and each mini-habitat will probably support different creatures - although this is an area where further study would be useful.
Many of the habitat patches in gardens resemble or substitute for semi-natural habitats in our countryside. Lawns quite closely resemble grazed grassland, and garden patchworks of hedges and shrubs creates edge-zones, like the species-rich interface between woodlands and grasslands at the edge of a wood.
Compost heaps and wood piles represent the deep detritus layer in woodlands, and multi-species hedges can bring some of the diversity of deciduous woodland into a small space. Garden ponds can be as species-rich as similar sized countryside ponds, while rockeries and gravel mimic screes and coastal habitats.
Even the veggie patch, heavily disturbed every year, is a model for old fashioned cereal fields before intensive weedkillers removed most of our beautiful cornfield flowers.
This wonderful mix of mini-habitats, that resemble the semi-natural habitats to which our wildlife is already adapted, is one reason why gardens hold so many species.
We are developing several pages on garden habitats for wildlife.
These will eventually include:
- Garden mosaics
- Ponds and water
- Bog gardens
- Wildflower meadows
- Lawns and alternatives
- Allotments and veggie patches
- Compost heaps
- Log piles and hibernation
- Green roofs and walls
If you would like to help create these pages, with ideas, text or pictures, please get in touch using the Website comments, photos or offers of help
form on the Contact us