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Biodiversity in estates, gardens and meadows
About 18% of the open space in Hackney is made up of domestic gardens and green spaces in and around housing areas. These areas help to provide a network of green infrastructure throughout the borough.
Small changes to the way gardens and estates are managed can significantly improve the people’s experience of nature and biodiversity and create areas for wildlife. This could include:
- allowing grassland areas to grow long
- clusters of shrubs and trees
- hedges and ‘edge’ habitat
- ponds and wetland features
- log piles and nesting sites
More than half of Hackney’s households rent from social landlords or registered providers and a large number of these residents live in estates. Natural Estates provides information about the importance of green spaces for the residents of social housing and provides advice on design and management of those spaces.
Examples of estates where residents have worked with local organisations to create and manage their local green space:
- The London Wildlife Trust project is working with residents of Hackney estates to engage people in the improvement of their local green spaces and develop their conservation skills
- The Clapton Park tenant management organisation has chosen to use the Grass Roof Company as their maintenance contractor. The estate is often referred to as the ‘poppy estate’ because of the number of wild flowers
Gardens provide an important network of green space across Hackney, however certain areas in the borough, such as Shoreditch and Dalston, have considerably fewer private gardens than elsewhere.
How to manage gardens for wildlife
Meadows are becoming a more common feature in Hackney’s parks. Meadows can take different forms from the highly colourful pictorial meadow, in London Fields to the more subtle grass meadow in South Millfields. All types of meadow provide an improved habitat for insects compared to amenity grassland and can provide a source of food for bees and butterflies.
Grass meadows are created by simply reducing how often the grass is cut, allowing it to grow tall, flower and seed. Wildflower meadows consist of British wildflower species such as the corncockle, poppy or oxeye daisy and a mix of grasses. Pictorial meadows will commonly include British wildflowers but will also include non-native species, which can give a particularly impressive display or extend the flowering period of the meadow. Pictorial meadows commonly flower from May to October.
Meadows are sown in either the spring or autumn and can include annual and perennial species, this combination ensures a great splash of colour and that the meadow blooms year after year. They’re cut in the autumn and the cuttings removed and composted. This helps to lower the soil’s fertility which provides better growing conditions for the meadow, as in general, they prefer less fertile, well-drained soil.
In recent years meadows have been sown at