We are often asked for advice on how to make local verges and green spaces wilder, or able to support more biodiversity. The advice will depend on the scale of the site and ambition. Here are some things to consider.
There are many actions you can take to make your garden, of any size, that wildlife will love. Please visit our Wildlife Gardening Page.
Grounds of a premises, school or business
Is it yours, or do you have permission from the land owner? Great. If the grounds are relatively small and you want to enhance them yourselves, you could start by reviewing the advice in the Wildlife Gardening Page. Read on for more advice for doing it yourself.
If the grounds are large, you may want to consider buying in professional time from our consultancy Wildscapes who can provide you with ecological advice, a management plan and making the changes on the ground – or some of those elements if you want to do some yourself.
Local green space
Do you know who owns the green space? It may be a Parks & Countryside or Housing department of Sheffield or Rotherham Council. Find contact details below:
Things to consider before creating a meadow or sowing wildflowers
First of all – what grassland do you already have? Can you let it grow with reduced or no mowing if you are not sure? You may be surprised what is there if allowed to grow.
Are you considering a meadow – a mix of perennial wild grasses and wild flower seed or just wildflowers – perhaps more suited to a pot or flower bed?
What soil do you have?
How will the wildflowers or meadow be managed?
For more on these questions – follow the link at the end of this section.
Are you planning on managing the whole area as a meadow or wildflower area? Or might you consider other habitats and wildlife features.
Structural diversity is to be encouraged– any enhancements that bring different heights of vegetation into a site will provide microclimates for invertebrates as well as a diversity of plant species. And don’t forget scrub and hedgerows which also support birds and small mammals.
Thinking of planting trees? Is this the right place for trees, or is it already a good quality habitat? It might be, but if you are not sure, please seek advice from us. There are a number of tree planting initiatives potentially available through Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and/ or partner organisations. Please contact us for more information as initiatives change quickly.
Have you thought about a pond? Check out information on ponds and other small features that can be introduced on the wildlife gardening page.
Choose native, perennial seeds if you can from a reputable supplier. Sheffield and Rotherham have lost most of their species-rich grasslands – for example Sheffield has lost over 75% of its local biodiverse grasslands since 1980’s, so you could help local grasslands to recover. Native perennial flowers and grasses will not have such a long colourful flowering season compared with a mixture of non-native species (e.g. Pictorial Meadow which are sometimes chosen for city-centre projects for example), but still look fabulous in early summer. Annuals give a more immediate flash of colour but will need to be re-seeded every year. Both natives and non-natives support invertebrates, including pollinators, however native plants and invertebrates have co-evolved and native plants support all life stages of a wide range of invertebrates. Suggested local native plant species can be found here.
If you are buying wildlflower seed, be careful where you are sourcing it from – particularly if you are wanting just native wildflowers, as the provenance is not always clear. We recommend Emorsgate or Naturescape. For more suppliers of useful enhancements to your greenspace see SRWT Good practice enhancements for biodiversity in developments.
Now follow this link to learn how to create your meadow or wild patch.
Road verges can be remnants of original habitat or created as new habitats in the urban environment. They are linear habitats which can connect other larger areas of habitat as part of ecological networks. How they are managed can have a big impact on the diversity of plants, invertebrates and other wildlife that they can support.
Most road verges are the responsibility of the Local Authority – except for major trunk roads which are managed by Highways England. Due to health and safety considerations and the location of underground infrastructure, permission must be sought to plant anything in the road verge.
Rotherham road verges
See here for how to apply for permission to plant in a road verge in Rotherham.
You will also find information about Rotherham Council’s grass cutting schedule and the pictorial meadows planting on the A630 on this page.
Sheffield road verges
In Sheffield, most road verges are managed by Amey on behalf of Sheffield City Council as part of the Streets Ahead contract.
Sheffield City Council are still looking to introduce a process to permit wildflower planting and maintenance by residents, as yet the process has not been finalised. In the meantime, any requests should be made to email@example.com.
From 2015-2019 Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust collaborated with Streets Ahead and the University of Sheffield on the Sheffield Living Highways Project. You can find out about achievements and lessons learnt here.
Want to know more about managing road verges for wildlife?
Please visit here where you can find advice and case studies from across the Wildlife Trust movement and download the Best Practice Guide to Managing Road Verges.
You can also read the proceedings from the Road Verge Symposium 2019 organised by Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust Butterfly Conservation and Natural England, here.
Still have questions?
Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or 0114 2634335