Article - The River Blog

5 Top tips – No. 3: Responsible Gardening

Author: Jeanette Dyson
Categories: Projects

5 Top Tips for Holme Improvement

No 3. Responsible Gardening

Healthy, well-cared for rivers provide food, shelter and a breeding ground for invertebrates, fish and mammals. In turn, they provide food for larger animals, which is all vital for a healthy, functioning ecosystem.

Here are our top tips for easy ways that you can help our rivers by being a responsible gardener.

1. Dumping green waste is considered illegal fly tipping

Dumping garden waste on unlicensed land is illegal fly tipping and you can be prosecuted. Dumping garden waste can pollute the environment.

Always dispose of green waste – grass cuttings, weeds and plant cuttings – responsibly. Use a composter, take advantage of council brown bin schemes, or take green waste to your local waste and recycling centre.

Many of the plants and flowers we grow in our gardens are not native species, including montbretia. Indeed, Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed started out as exotic ornamental garden flowers in Victorian times. When non-native species are released into the wild, by illegal dumping of green waste, they can spread. They crowd out native species and reduce biodiversity – the number and variety of native plants and animals an environment supports.

Never dump green waste in fields, woods or other wild areas. And please, never throw green waste into streams and rivers. The green waste pollutes the water and the river can carry the waste downstream, which can result in invasive species colonising our river systems.

2. Grass your garden

Hard surfaces, including driveways, artificial grass and patios, cannot soak up water. Instead precipitation ends up in the drainage system, overwhelming sewerage systems, which can flood and pollute our rivers. Natural lawns help this water to soak into the ground instead.

3. Ditch slug pellets

Metaldehyde, the active substance found in many slug pellets is toxic, not just to slugs but to larger animals too. It can be passed up the food chain, killing hedgehogs and birds. If it gets into the river system things are even worse. Water slows its breakdown so it can remain toxic for longer and has a greater chance of being consumed by aquatic animals and entering the food chain.

4. Plant native species

Planting native species in your garden that attract bees, butterflies and other wildlife, will help nature. The Royal Horticultural Society website has lots of ideas for native plants from primrose to wood anemone.

5. Leave part of your lawn wild

If mowing the lawn is one of your least-favourite jobs you now have the perfect excuse not to do it. Leaving even a small part of your lawn to grow wild, is one of the best things you can do to help wildlife.


Our Top tips… series of blogs is part of our Holme Improvements, year-long project, which is funded by an award from Postcode Local Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

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