Bonfire night can be lots of fun, and if your garden is your pride and joy, you might want to host a bonfire party or your own firework display. But there are obvious safety considerations, for yourself, others, and for wildlife, never mind the fact that you don’t want a bonfire to wreck your lovingly tended garden. Here’s how to look after your garden on bonfire night and beyond.
On bonfire night
- You might want to put all your garden waste on your bonfire, but composting it is still better. Diseased plants should be burned, but putting other vegetation on the fire is wasting nutrients that could have been used to nourish your soil.
- Shred wood waste and use it as mulch. Put the shredded wood on your compost pile or bin and leave it for 3 months.
- The fresh ashes from your bonfire can contain nutrients like potassium and lime, which make the soil more alkaline and encourage flowers and fruit to grow. Store ashes in a dry place though, as the rain can wash them away.
- Keep some ashes for the spring to sprinkle over your vegetable plot to help suppress diseases that might harm your crop.
Minimizing the damage to your garden
To avoid any lasting damage to your garden after bonfire night, here’s some handy tips to protect your pride and joy:
Use a fire pit
You can find these in garden shops, and they are usually used for burning garden waste. They come in different shapes, sizes, and styles, so you’re sure to find something practical that complements your garden.
Don’t singe your lawn
When you set off fireworks, use a bucket filled with soil to launch them from. Don’t launch them from the lawn as this will leave singe marks on it. Consider using fireworks like Catherine wheels that you can mount on the wall instead.
Remove any used fireworks from your lawn
Used fireworks contain chemicals that can cause damage to your lawn if they are left there for too long, so remove them as soon as possible, and soak them in a bucket of water before putting them in the trash bin.
Think about where to have your bonfire
Choose a site for your bonfire away from the lawn if possible, such as an old vegetable plot you don’t use anymore. Only burn dry, organic materials and don’t include too many leaves, as these produce a lot of smoke. Also, make sure it is away from other objects such as bins, which might be susceptible to fire. If space is limited, make sure your bins are closed shut or placed securely in a safe storage container.
What if your lawn has already been burnt?
It’s advisable to get a professional lawn renovation if the damage is considerable, but there is something you can do. Rake any ash from the fire onto the soil which will boost nutrients, and it even keeps slugs away.
Look after wildlife
Remember when you’re gathering materials to make your bonfire, that some animals can make nests in the piles, especially hedgehogs and toads, who like to take shelter in wood and leaves. Here’s how to protect the wildlife in your garden:
- Build your bonfire on the day you’re due to light it, so there’s less of a chance that animals will make a nest in it
- Use a torch to check that there’s no wildlife in the bonfire before you light it. If you discover an animal, carefully lift it out and put it in a safe place, away from the fire.
- Ensure your fire is totally out before you leave it, as it can be very hot and pose a danger to animals, even days later.
Protecting animals from fireworks
- Don’t set fireworks off near trees which could disturb wildlife habitats.
- Don’t pin fireworks to trees; attach them to fence posts instead.
- If you have pets, ask your vet about plug-ins or sprays which give off substances that can help your pet to relax so they are less afraid of the sound of fireworks.