Research from the Royal Horticultural Society has shown that gardeners should embrace their lawn bald patches.
According to the study, the odd bald patch in beds and lawns can help to support certain wildlife. The Plants for Bugs study saw a team of researchers from Wisley exploring the needs of ground-dwelling invertebrates in gardens. Overall it was found that the more vegetation the more ground-active invertebrates, but that ground-dwelling spiders were found in greater numbers among sparser plantings.
Are spiders good for the garden?
Spiders are particularly important for the natural balance of your garden and feed on a variety of prey including midges and sap-sucking insects. Planting smaller, younger plants and letting them fill out as well as embracing the occasional bald patch of earth offers an important variation in habitat.
The research also showed that evergreen plants, such as holly, Christmas box and pittosporum were found to provide important shelter in the winter months for a range of invertebrates including ladybirds, springtails and ground beetles.
Five tips to support invertebrates in your garden
Let planting fill out, but keep some areas sparser to help specific groups notably spiders. Although not covered in this research, some ground-nesting bees also make use of patches of bare ground.
Plant densely with plenty of native and near-native plants to support the greatest number of ground-active invertebrates but be prepared for more nibbled plants than exotic plant schemes.
Think about winter
Whatever the plant origin, try to include some evergreens in your garden to give shelter to invertebrates.
Choosing more exotics in your planting scheme might mean it supports marginally fewer plant-dwelling and ground-active herbivores, but will mean potentially fewer nibbled plants and should help extend the season for pollinators if you choose flowering exotics.
Don’t limit yourself to just a few different plants - this and other studies suggest the greater the variety of plants in a garden, the richer the diversity of invertebrates it will support.
FIX YOUR PRICE FOR THE YEAR- HALF PRICE SALE!
Special offer to celebrate RHS Chelsea Flower Show! Get a whole year of Gardens Illustrated magazine for just £30 and FIX YOUR PRICE!- saving over 50%. Subscribe today and enjoy beautiful places, top planting ideas and expert advice for your garden. *Offer ends 1st July 2022. This offer is only available to UK residents paying by Direct Debit
Container Gardening Special Edition
The Gardens Illustrated Guide to Container Gardening. In this special edition, discover colourful flower combinations and seasonal planting schemes for pots designed by leading plantspeople, and essential know-how for container gardening success. Just £9.99 inc UK p&p
Gardens of the Globe
Discover some of the most glorious gardens from around the world.Find out more