Expert shares the one garden trend to avoid if you want to protect wildlife

This divisive garden feature does nothing to help local bees, butterflies and hedgehogs

garden with tulips and bench
(Image credit: Getty / Rosemary Calvert)

It doesn't take long for a beginner gardener to notice that by tending to an outdoor space big or small, we can actively help local wildlife. There are plenty of wildlife garden ideas out there - but here an expert shares one of the garden trends to avoid.

Paul Hetherington, Director of Fundraising and Communication at Bug Life (opens in new tab), The Invertebrate Conservation Trust explains just why fake grass is so ruinous for our outdoor spaces.

fake grass

(Image credit: Alamy)

'We strongly advise against the use of fake or plastic grass,' Paul begins. 'The rise in popularity of this garden trend is causing complete loss of habitats.

'It strips the land of its nutrients, creating wastelands for bug and insect species,' he adds. Instead of opting for this option as your go-to alternatives to grass, he encourages gardeners to be mindful of their natural green spaces.

Paul also recommends that we choose garden design ideas with the surrounding ecosystem in mind, preserving any existing natural habitats.

garden with bird bath

(Image credit: Getty / Jacky Parker Photography)

Of course, there's a balance to strike, as our gardens are for us, as well as birds, bees and insects to enjoy. If we can make a garden that attracts pollinators and fulfils our garden dreams, then we can't ask for much more.

Paul goes on to say that habitat loss and climate change are having detrimental effects on populations of pollinators across the world. But, there's plenty we can do in our own gardens. 

'Some simple changes to our green spaces can create vital refuge for our invertebrate friends,' Paul says. One example he gives is planting a variety of flowers to ensure there are flowers all year round, such as spring bulbs, lavender, winter honeysuckle and winter clematis.

wildflower meadow

(Image credit: Getty / Jacky Parker Photography)

Artificial grass is very easy to maintain and convenient for families with young children. However, a lazy lawn cut once in a while, or a colorful wildflower garden (which needs next to no upkeep) will vastly improve conditions for wildlife. 

Earlier this year, BBC Gardener's World host Monty Don described mowing the lawn as 'about the most injurious thing you can do to wildlife.' The gardening guru is firmly against obsessive mowing of pristine lawns.

We also recently wrote about Alan Titchmarsh's garden path tip for making a mown garden path by mowing a strip through an overgrown area of your garden. This makes an enchanting feature of a wild and unruly open space.

So if supporting wildlife is one of your priorities in the garden, steer clear of fake grass, which is anything but green.

Millie joined Gardeningetc in early 2021. She loves creating a vibrant display of containers in her small urban garden and is always picking up new plants at the local garden center. She's never without some fresh flowers at home and her favorite houseplant is her variegated pothos that's currently climbing its way over her bookshelves.