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A Grownup Project: Rewilding Your Garden

Skipping the lawn-mowing never felt so good

A growing topic in conversations about addressing the state of the planet is the threat facing biodiversity. Rewilding is the most low-key way to do your part in counteracting it. 

The intricate web of life on our planet is delicately balanced and with a recent UN report warning that a million animal and plant species face extinction, thanks to humankind’s behaviour, the issue can seem impossible to address.

Not so, says Mary Reynolds, founder of The Ark, an initiative to encourage people to let patches of land go wild to encourage biodiversity.

It may seem inconsequential but, much like many single voices uniting to create a choir (or indeed a million-strong political protest), small activities done on an individual scale can combine to produce ripples of real change.

While allowing a corner of your garden to grow wild doesn’t seem like a world-changing act, many gardens and many patches of rewilded land could soon add up to something significant.

“It is the most obvious, the least expensive, and the most effective solution to the collapse of biodiversity,” Reynolds says, simply.

And with Ireland’s wildlife at risk (one-third of our bees are threatened with extinction), surely skipping the lawn-mowing or planting some wildflowers in a corner of your garden is worth a try.


STEP 1. Give half, or as much as you can manage, of your garden back to nature. Try and grow as much of your own organic food as possible too.

STEP 2. Put up a sign ‘THIS IS AN ARK’. This simple action removes the shame that people feel about having a messy garden and replaces it with pride that you are doing something important.

STEP 3. Try and remove any 'invasive plants'.This is difficult on a large scale but on our individual patches of earth, we can manage it easily enough by hand. There is no place for chemicals in an ark, they cause many more problems than they solve.

STEP 4. Leave your lawn to grow wild and just mow a path through it, if required. If your land is damaged or devoid of growth, sow a wildflower meadow. Use local, native wildflower seeds as they are vital genetic material for the local insect populations. This will reboot the ecosystem.

STEP 5. A sandbank, a pile of rotting logs and twigs and a small pond will be a great support to wildlife.

STEP 6. Allow deadwood to stay where it is unless it is dangerous. A living oak tree will support over 500 species of life, a standing dead oak tree will support thousands.

STEP 7. Get together with like-minded folk and go to your councils and estate management committees and ask for support.

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