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Private gardens make up a large percentage of the green space in Otley and  as habitats in the wider countryside shrink and fragment, gardens represent potential havens for wildlife.  

We have been offering advice and hands on assistance for years now to the residents of Otley who want to move to a nature centred way of gardening.

It is our hope that Otley's gardens can become part of the network of connected green spaces for our wildlife. 

More updates coming soon, so come please come back!

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Go chemical free

Chemicals such as pesticides and weed killers are one of the main sources of biodiversity loss in the UK. Putting chemicals on plants not only creates run-off which pollutes waterways, but damages the soil and also kills insects, which are the main source of food for many birds and small mammals. As a result, the biodiversity loss in the UK is one of the worst anywhere in the world.

See below for alternatives.

Gardens form a huge part of our urban habitat, and going chemical-free can really help to restore our insects, birds, amphibians, mammals and reptiles.

Try these convenient, affordable alternatives to weedkillers

These do not kill our local wildlife.

These methods are mostly non-selective, so don't get them onto precious plants.

Alternative pest control

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Areas of mown grass are associated with traditional gardening,

but they are monocultures which do not support any wildlife.


If you like to have a lawn, consider managing it for insects and birds – 

  • Leave a patch or swathe unmown – the number of insects will increase by up to 10 times when the grass is allowed to grow. Clovers and trefoils are particularly great food sources for bees.

  • Mow a margin around the edge or a pathway through the lawn, to signal it’s for wildlife and not just neglected.

  • Consider planting some wildflower plugs in the grass such as scabious, knapweed or betony. Yellow rattle, once established, parasitises the grass and slows its growth, allowing wild flowers to flourish.

  • Consider not using fertiliser and other chemicals on your grass.

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Hedges and trees

  • Don’t heavily prune or cut hedges or trees between March and August. This is peak nesting time, and birds (even those in adjacent trees) will abandon their nests. 

  • If planting a new hedge, try a native mixture of hedging which will attract more wildlife. Flowering trees such as crab-apple or cherry are great for nectar and pollen as well as looking beautiful. 

  • Try planting some honeysuckle, jasmine or clematis through your hedge for extra pollen and nectar.

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Other Wildlife-friendly garden activities

  • Install a pond if you have room – they are one of the best ways of attracting wildlife such as frogs, newts, dragonflies and much more.

  • Be hedgehog friendly. Provide access to your garden by a hole in the fence or a tunnel under the fence, and encourage your neighbours to do likewise. Hedgehog-friendly streets provide badly-needed shelter, food and safety - we have lost over 80% of our hedgehogs and they need a helping hand. 

  • Install a water butt.

  • Make your own compost if you have room – its great for mulching and keeping weeds down, as well as offering warm shelter for wildlife.

  • Plant nectar- and pollen-rich plants. 

  • Don’t be too hasty to clean up piles of leaves. Piles of old wood/vegetation are terrific habitats for insects, reptiles and small mammals.

  • Leave a bowl filled with stones and water in the summer – bees and other insects will use it to drink.

  • Provide a selection of food and shelter for birds.


We have prepared idea sheets of pledges for families, individuals, businesses, schools and community groups. Everyone in Otley can do something to help our wildlife!


This video is a recording of a live webinar'How to attract wildlife to your garden,'based on the ideas from our Pledges for Wildlife.

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