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I think I've just landed the task of creating a wildlife garden at my daughters infant school. There is a small area already set up with a buddleja in, and potential for butterfly attracting plants, but there seems to be an area under trees where nettles, brambles and ivy are encroaching into the space.
How is best to clear the nettles, brambles ivy etc. Can I spray the nettles and then work on the clearing the planted area, and then go and dig out the nettles in a few weeks. Just want to start getting them under control before they get too big.
Any advice for what to put in a children's wildlife area ? There is a little pond, should that be cleared out and cleaned ? bug houses, piles of logs for insects. They would like to have different sections focusing on different things. The area seems to have been neglected for a few years.
Any recommendations for what to plant ? I think the area is going to be fairly shady when the leaves come on the trees, but would still like to attract butterflies if possible.
thanks for any advice. YIkes what have I let myself into
The best way is to spray with glysophate when the nettles are actively growing. Brambles need a spray with roundup, pick the one specifically for brambles.
One other thing to consider is that nettles are butterfly larvae food, so a small controlled patch of nettles would be wise to keep. Ivy also provides homes and food for beneficial insects, so you need a balance of neglect and organisation.
As for suitable plants, go to the RSPB website and related organisations, links below.
Fully endorse what Dave has said, you pretty much have the foundations of a wildlife garden already so rather than decimate it try and manage it and somehow make it child friendly, it is after all going to be an educational tool.
I think the above posters have given you some very good ideas! Children often don't know/can't recognise some plants/weeds, and a wildlife-friendly garden might be one way of teaching them about what are common weeds - and that nettles sting!
You might also be able to grow something edible which wouldn't take up a lot of space - such as runner beans, for example - so that they can begin to learn what some of our vegetables look like. Growing peas, too, might be good - the children could then pop the pods and try some raw!
Will people be around to tend, water, remove pests etc during the 6 weeks of summer holiday? Something to think about as Peas if planted now will be cropable during summer holidays and lots of pests will have a field day with no one around, esp pea Moth.
You could also consider either a wormery, but that is slightly labour intensive and you would need to take it home in the longer school hols (they are not very large) or a compost bin. Either one will teach the children a lot about re-cycling and in my experience as a Compost Master we do a lot of events with children, they LOVE the worms in the wormery
some great ideas thank you. I hadn't realised the benefits of some of the plants. I will undertake some management of those areas and try and get them a bit more structured and child friendly. Have found lots of gems hidden in the nettles coming up, so looking forward to getting stuck in and getting the kids involved.