From introducing bird feeders and water features to choosing bee-friendly flowers and wildflower lawns, there are many ways homeowners can welcome wildlife into their gardens. It could also add up to £27,000 to the average UK property, according to experts. More and more people are naturalizing their gardens, with research from BBC Gardeners’ World in 2021 showing more than half (54 per cent) of those surveyed had a vacant space in their garden, an 11 per cent increase from 2020. There are now over 1,000 “wild gardens”. ‘ Boards on Pinterest highlighting how many people are searching for ideas related to this topic.
According to Fiona Jenkins, gardening expert at MyJobQuote, “A well-designed wildlife garden could add between five and 20 percent to the value of your home, depending on its size and location.”
To help those looking to add value to their home and attract potential buyers, Sean McMenemy, garden wildlife expert and director of Ark Wildlife, has shared his top tips for gardening with wildlife and gathered insights from real estate agents and property buying experts.
The first tip when gardening for wildlife to add value to a property is to address people’s aspirations.
Jonathan Rolande, founding member of the National Association of Property Buyers and director of House Buy Fast, noted that this can potentially help “sell the house fast and for more.”
He said: “When people enter a house, pleasant smells can help them imagine living there.
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“Then your garden will look and smell nice, and you’ll be helping the bees to spread flowers and fruit around the neighborhood.”
Experts are also advising homeowners to step back from garden maintenance.
Nick Lewis-Smith, Director at Michael Anthony Estate Agents, explained: “Even the smallest garden or outdoor space is more likely to add value to a home if it is lush and in a location that looks natural enough to attract wildlife.
“And although gardens need maintenance, gardening to welcome wildlife means a lighter touch with that maintenance.”
Sean noted that gardens should look “mended” rather than “neglected.”
He said: “More grass means more habitat for all kinds of animals. You can create a beautiful look with a mix of grasses and wildflowers, aided by the use of wildflower seed balls.
“Just remember to plan it carefully so it looks designed and not neglected.”
Real estate experts also shared that gardens need to strike the right balance of “beautiful and usable” but still need to “attract wildlife”.
George Clover, Partner at Helmore’s Estate Agents, explained: “Most people like wildlife and in smaller gardens they could add a pond or hotel for large insects, or plant specific plants and flowers to attract insects and birds.
“This means that gardens can be beautiful and usable, yet still attract wildlife for enjoyment and for the benefit of the ecosystems we share.
“A well designed garden, containing all the elements for enjoyment and wildlife, could take up as much as 10 per cent of an average UK plot versus a bare garden.
“However, a wildlife garden could be left entirely to nature, which is great for wildlife but doesn’t appeal to many buyers.”
Sean McMenemy recommends adding a water feature as a fantastic way to find that balance.
He said: “Water sources provide habitats for frogs, newts, dragonflies and of course visiting birds that need a bath. The best location for a water feature is somewhere with plenty of sunlight.
“You can attract more wildlife by placing plants, flowers and tree trunks around it, which will also improve the look for home buyers.
“I would opt for bird baths over ponds if considering adding value to your home, depending on the type of property you have, as ponds could deter families with young children who need a safe garden space.”