This month, the Forest of Marston Vale is celebrating The Great Big Green Week, a week-long annual celebration to inspire action to tackle climate change and protect nature. 

Organised by The Climate Coalition, thousands of events will be taking place in communities up and down the country to support the environment.

The Forest of Marston Vale has its own exciting programme of events you can join in too, including a butterfly walk and a litter pick at the Millennium Country Park.

In addition to getting involved in activities out and about in the local community, there are plenty of things you can do at home in your own garden to help wildlife and tackle climate change. It is estimated that the total area of gardens in the UK is about 433,000 hectares – around a fifth of the size of Wales – so if every individual made some small positive changes for the environment in their garden it would add up to a very large collective impact.

One of the most climate-friendly actions you can take in your garden is to stop using peat-based composts. Wild peatlands store vast amounts of carbon - locking in an estimated 3.2 billion tonnes in the UK alone. When peat is harvested for use in compost we’re destroying one of our greatest weapons against climate change, as well as a precious wildlife habitat.

A ban on the sale of peat-based composts for gardeners will be come into force in 2024, and there are now plenty of peat-free alternative to choose from when purchasing a compost. However, take care when buying plants as many are still grown in compost containing peat. Some of major retailers are catching on though and plants grown in peat-free compost are becoming more widely available – check the labels to make sure.

You can also make your own compost easily with materials from the garden that would otherwise go in your green waste bin. Your compost needs to comprise of a 50-50 mixture of green leafy material and brown woody material. You can also add small amounts of torn up cardboard such as loo rolls and fruit and veg peelings too. ‘Turning’ your compost periodically with a garden fork lets air circulate and helps to speed up the process of compost creation. Do be careful to avoid hurting any wildlife when you move it around though, as in addition to providing a very useful end product, a warm compost heap can become an excellent home for wildlife. A huge range of insects live inside the compost heap, helping the decomposition process, and gardeners have also recorded everything from toads to slowworms taking up residence in them.

Speaking of wildlife homes, another way to support nature in the garden is by providing suitable shelter spots for a range of creatures. Piles of logs left in dappled shade in a quiet corner of the garden will attract a variety of insects, providing food sources for birds, frogs, toads, and hedgehogs.

You can also simply just let a patch of the garden ‘go wild’ – letting the grass, nettles and brambles grow with abandon. Although it’s not everyone’s favourite plant, if you can bear to nurture your nettles you’ll attract a whole host of insects to the garden. The caterpillars of the peacock and small tortoiseshell butterfly both rely on nettles as a foodplant. Brambles are another wildlife hero – providing shelter and nesting places for birds, nectar sources for bees and butterflies and food for caterpillars. You’ll also get a tasty crop of blackberries to munch on yourself in late summer!

Growing your own food is another way to help the planet, as you won’t be clocking up any food miles if you’re feasting on produce grown on your own patch. You don’t need tons of space either – a variety of crops can be grown in containers on patios or balconies or even windowsills. Salad crops are great for beginners. Buy a packet of mixed salad leaves seeds and scatter them into a garden tray or pot in a sunny spot (indoors or outdoors) and keep them moist. In six – eight weeks you’ll have a fresh crop of salad – with no plastic or food miles involved! Many varieties are ‘cut and come again’ too – which means you can cut a few leaves for your lunch and in a week or two they’ll have grown back again.

You can even do your bit for nature and the planet by watering your garden wisely – using rainwater rather than our already stretched water supplies. Installing a water butt or two in the garden will give you a plentiful supply of rainwater to give your plants a drink. It will save you money on your water bills and reduce your carbon footprint too. Every home in the UK has half a tonne of water delivered to their door every day – using up energy as it is treated and pumped to your home. The less water you use, the less energy will be used to provide it.

We hope you find inspiration in these ideas, and we’d also love to hear about any other things you do to make your garden as climate- and nature-friendly as possible during The Great Big Green Week.


Keep up-to-date with events and Forest news...

By signing up to our email newsletter you'll be the first to hear about the site updates, wildlife news, events happening in our Community Woodlands and Millennium Country Park, as well as special offers and opportunities to get involved.

Sign me up!