top of page
  • Writer's pictureBridgette Macilwaine

Wildlife-friendly urban garden design

Designing an urban garden that is not only colourful and practical, but is also attractive to wildlife. Using creative design ideas to transform nutrient poor and uninviting gardens into wildlife-friendly, colourful and attractive spaces.

Urban gardens are being replaced with patios and paved driveways, reducing the greenery and plant life which helps support our local biodiversity and homes for wildlife.

Declining bird and insect populations have encouraged designers and homeowners to make more effort to incorporate habitats for wildlife into their gardens or urban spaces.

A simple design consideration for any urban space is to grow a range of plants with different flowering times to ensure a year round food source for pollinators. After annuals and perennials have died off, the seed heads can be quite attractive to leave throughout the winter, these also help to provide food and shelter for wildlife.


"Air, water, soil and biodiversity, I can't imagine anything more important than these things that keep us alive"

David Suzuki.

These 2 images below are from our recently renovated small urban garden. this area garden hardly had any life it in (except a few slugs) when we bought it. The idea was to create a space which was beautiful, practical and a home for wildlife. We are thrilled to see how much this small space has been transformed, which is now constantly filled with ladybugs, bees, spiders, beetles, worms, butterflies and birds.

Using a few simple design elements which can be easily incorporated into our gardens, these will help to re-wild these spaces, invite wildlife into them and take steps to stop the decline of the UK’s wildlife population.

Simple design elements to include:

  • a planting palette of flowering species which provide food for pollinators

  • a log pile or dry stone bench - both of which provide habitats for insects

  • insect hotels within planting beds or these can be attached to fences, wall or trees.

  • small box with holes and dried grass as hedgehog homes

  • small non-intrusive pond for frogs and other aquatic life

  • not using chemicals and pesticides


“Richness in life comes from nature, the source of all inspiration, gratitude and peace."

The two images below were from the 2019 Hampton Court Garden Show, This inspiring wildlife friendly garden from designed by the team of designer Jo Thompson and BBC TV programme Springwatch. These gardens were an inspiring example which demonstrates ways in which wildlife-friendly gardening can be practised, across 3 varying garden types. More information on this garden can be found on here Jo Thompson's website.

These two images below are from the our recent trip to the Sheffield Botanical garden, which consists of several winding paths, leading the visitor through what seems like endless different garden areas to explore. This specific zone was the "Prairie style garden" designed by Nigel Dunnet and James Hitchmough and led by the Landscape department of Sheffield University.

Plants for pollinators:

  • Armeria maritima,

  • Liriope muscari

  • Hebe varieties

  • Lavender

  • Eryngium planum

  • Verbena bonariensis

  • Knautia arvensis

  • Skimmia japonica

  • Nepeta faassenii

  • Mahonia aquifolium

  • Achilleas

  • Stachys byzantina 'Silver Carpet'

  • Salvia species

  • Mallow

  • Eupatorium cannabinum

  • Anemone Honorine Jobert

Let us know what your favourite wildlife friendly gardens are, or areas you love to explore that are naturally wild and beautiful?


Thanks for reading, until next time.


bottom of page