Latest posts by Joe_the_Gardener

Swifts in decline

Posted: 28/03/2015 at 12:37


It's really up to all of us to do as much as we can to change the culture, perhaps by making representations direct to local planning authorities or via wildlife trusts or other local groups. Don't expect to win every situation, but believe me, there is a lot of support for the birds. We can use local news media to raise awareness. Larger companies have a lot to gain by being able to tick an 'environmental' box.

Gillian, your particular example is unfortunately typical of the lackadaisical approach of people who ought to know better. They should be made aware that Swifts leave very little evidence of nesting; what little material they use biodegrades very quickly and they take all the droppings away from the nest. The only evidence of nesting is really observation of adults and young. So the more records that we can provide the better.

4thPanda - it takes a while for Swifts to adopt nest sites, and a lot of the Swifts that are bombing around are young birds that are not yet breeding - they may not start till their 3rd or 4th year. They do tend to distract you from the nests that are in use! See the website for ways to attract Swifts.

laurel hedge will not grow near leylandii tree.

Posted: 27/03/2015 at 17:13

I would not do anything without first making a friendly approach to the neighbour, explaining the problem and inviting them to come and have a look at it from your garden. This way you are ten points up from the very start.

Swifts in decline

Posted: 26/03/2015 at 12:44

In about a month Swifts will return to Britain and those of us lucky enough to have a local population will be thrilled by their high-speed flight and screaming calls - a key sound of summer - and the more you get to know about them the more fascinating they are. The only time these birds land is during the breeding season and we have a responsibility to look after them. 

However, Swift numbers have been dropping for some years and part of the problem seems to be destruction of traditional nest sites by restoration of buildings. It is  now common for building techniques not to preserve any of the nooks and crannies that Swifts prefer. This is particularly significant in older factory buildings and Edwardian and Victorian houses. You can find a lot more about the problem and ways in which we can all help to do something about it at

Your local Wildlife Trust and ornithological society are almost certainly involved with this issue and will have information on how you can help. Particularly important now is recording of nest sites (which can be surprisingly hard to find) so that they can be protected. If you have local knowledge it will be very useful - you may know of a nest on your street or your house (lucky you) which would take someone else ages to find. 

It is just as easy for builders to preserve or replace nest sites as it is to destroy them and techniques have been tried and tested across Europe. Swift Conservation have worked with major developers to provide Swift nest sites, so this isn't a conflict, rather it can be a win-win. If you get the chance to attend a Swift Conservation meeting or event you'll be inspired.

Take care where you put the mouse traps

Posted: 24/03/2015 at 11:01

Also avoid loose netting over soft fruit.

levelling the garden

Posted: 24/03/2015 at 10:34

As far as I can tell, there's a big gap in legislation for neighbouring terrace gardens - I'm allowed to (but haven't) make their garden unstable by digging right up to it, without even telling them, so long as it doesn't break the party wall rules for building's foundations.

I don't think it's a matter of legislation so much as that they could sue you for making their garden unstable and it would be up to a court to decide whether your actions were unreasonable/dangerous.


 But, as soon as I build a retaining wall to get the job done correctly, then I will need to inform them, and they can object

If you do any work that affects their property (for instance by interrupting the drainage) they have every right to object. Your idea of 'correctly' might not be the best one!

Unwanted pond!

Posted: 18/03/2015 at 16:46


I'm not telling him/her what to do, simply putting the other side of the matter. This pond wouldn't be any more 'unused' than any other pond.

Unwanted pond!

Posted: 18/03/2015 at 16:40

A pond that's covered with a grill will simply smell....baaaad!  

You make them removable for cleaning.

Terrible Garden, Low Budget

Posted: 18/03/2015 at 16:10


The post I put on yesterday has not appeared (we had a power-cut just as I pressed the key). Patsy and others are right. For me nothing short of complete clearance would do, so get some mates round with picks, a crowbar, bowsaw, spades and loppers and an old axe and offer them as much tea and food as they can manage, with a beer at the end, and set them to work on digging out all the stumps, including the remaining tree, which will outgrow the space very quickly.

Then you will have a blank space to develop, and things will seem much better.

Unwanted pond!

Posted: 18/03/2015 at 15:54

Lyn, it's generally not good practice to transfer stuff from pond to pond; there are a number of invasive weeds that people have introduced into their ponds and these would be spread by transfer. There are also diseases of frogs which could be spread.

Unwanted pond!

Posted: 18/03/2015 at 13:59


I would ask you to please re-think your plan. Frogs - which are part of the web of wildlife in our country - are threatened by loss of habitat everywhere, and it's a shame that an established habitat, however it originated, should join the long list of sites which are destroyed on a whim. Just think that maybe your children will like frogs - most kids do - and maybe if you join in with them at a frog-related event at your local wildlife centre (wildlife trust, RSPB, ranger service, etc) you may gradually lose your detestation.

The benefits of frogs in gardens have been mentioned above. As to the safety aspects, I have installed grids on ponds and they work well. You may need to do a little cleaning and landscaping of your pond - you make it sound like a brick tank, but I'm sure it's better than that.

Give froggies a chance!

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