I know a word like biodiversity probably sounds a little intimidating to a newby greenie, but wait until you see how easy it can be.   

First, what is biodiversity?  Biodiversity measures the diversity of living organisms (plants, animals both on earth and in the water) in a given area.  This, in turn, is a measure of how healthy a biological area is.  Flower

You can turn your garden into a biodiversity friendly spot simply by planting a variety of endemic plants that will attract other life-forms and help save our planet.  Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?

Here are ways to improve biodiversity:  

  • Plant endemic plants in your garden.  Endemic plants are not only indigenous to a country but specifically to your geographical location. This will attract a wide variety of local birds and insects that will increase biodiversity of the area where you live.
  • Plant a variety of plants.  Plants with flowers and berries will attract birds, bees and other insects.  Plants that cover the ground will keep moisture in, while  higher growing plants can provide shelter for a variety of species.
  • Avoid using chemicals at all cost.  Ask your local nursery for organic feeds and pesticides, should you need them.
  • Plants companion plants. Companion plants reduce the need to use chemicals, pesticides and chemical fertilizers.  Here are a couple of companions that you will find indispensable in your new bio diverse garden:
    • Parsley is a great companion to tomatoes, strawberries and roses.  It wards of aphids and enhances the flavour of the fruit.
    • Mint is easy to grow and has a wonderful scent that almost everyone will enjoy.  Their strong scent will keep your carrots and green peppers free of insects.  Planted in a container near your outside braai area you can save on damaging mosquitto repellents by simply picking a couple of bunches and bruising their leaves to release their strong flavour.
    • Lavender is another one of those wonder-plants that no garden can go without.  In addition to being hardy and beautiful, it benefits all plants growing near it and also serves as an excellent insect repellent near your outside patio area or around your vegetable patch. 
      Lavender is an excellent companion plant
  • Remove alien plants from your garden. 
    These plants have been identified as not only foreign, but also dangerous to the environment.  They are vigorous growers and will invade natural indigenous areas and soak up precious water resources.  It is important that you get a list from your local council and eradicate these plants from your garden.  
    I also find the advice on www.lifeisagarden.co.za very helpful. Their article on the 10 worst invasive alien plants has photos which makes it easy for ordinary folk to spot these invaders.

Improving biodiversity is an ongoing process and should be kept up as the seasons change.  You will also find your local nursery very helpful. 

Keeping a record of birds and insects observed in your garden is a great way to involve the whole family and track your biodiversity progress.