Homebase today reveals the positive effects Britain’s gardening efforts have had on our outdoor spaces during lockdown, but warns these efforts could go to waste if busy Brits neglect their gardens as life returns to normal.

With 322 million additional plants gracing gardens, courtyards and balconies across the country, it’s all good news for bees, birds and insects as almost half (48%) of those surveyed by Homebase revealed they think plants that benefit wildlife are a must for any outdoor space.

Homebase has seen customers turn to colourful and fragrant plants such as French Lavender and West Country Lupins to cheer themselves up in lockdown. This has led to a 15% increase in sales of flowering perennial plants, which are ideal for bees and butterflies. Green fingered Brits have also purchased 183% more trees than this time last year, providing a haven for birds and even small animals like hedgehogs.

Professor Sir Ian L Boyd, of the University of St Andrews, said: “Scientific studies show clearly that gardens are an important resource for pollinators like bumble bees, honeybees, solitary bees and hoverflies. Urban landscapes where gardeners have intentionally planted flowers which attract pollinators are very likely to be contributing to sustaining pollinators, and trees and other shrubs also provide cover and food for other species.

“The data showing increased attention to gardens and planting of flowers which attract pollinators during the current lockdown is to be greatly welcomed. We need to build on the few benefits from the lockdown and it would be good to see this new interest in gardens sustained into the future.”

Locked down Brits have spent an average of three more hours a week in their gardens, investing £102 each in sprucing up our outdoor areas which adds up to a staggering £5.4 billion** across the nation. Even those without an outdoor space are adding to the country’s growing ecosystem, with the average person buying two new houseplants in the last three months.

Although almost two-thirds (64%) of the nation says they have planted more plants than last year, 36% admit they’re likely to spend less time caring for their garden as restrictions continue to lift. Over a third (38%) cite work commitments for the likely reduction and a fifth (21%) simply say they won’t need the distraction.

Homebase is calling on the nation not to lose momentum making their space a little bit greener with the launch of its Great British Green Up campaign. The retailer has created a series of how to videos, featuring the BBC’s Instant Gardener Danny Clarke, giving budding and established gardeners the tools and advice they need to make small changes in their outside space.

With a wide range of pollinating plants, insect homes and composters in store, Homebase is encouraging its customers to keep making a positive impact on their local wildlife.

Stephen Pitcher, Trading Director for Garden at Homebase, said: “The Great British Green Up is our way of inviting the nation to keep up the good work they’ve been doing in their gardens. Whether you were born with green fingers, or have just potted your first plant, the Homebase website is full of handy hints and simple changes you can make.

“It has been a joy to see our customers get out and enjoy their gardens in the last few months. We know in the challenging times we’ve lived through gardening can be brilliant for mental and physical health, and it’s very heartening to see the impact that is having on the environment as well.”

There are even more encouraging signs for biodiverse Britain, with 22% of respondents agreeing that they had made a specific effort to plant with the environment in mind. However, almost 1 in 10 Brits admit they care about the environment, but believe there is nothing they can do to make a difference.

Danny Clarke, Presenter of the BBC’s Instant Gardener, disagrees: “There is so much talk about biodiversity and the environment, and this can seem really daunting, but the reality is there are lots of really simple things you can do that have a direct impact on the bugs, bees and birds that we need more of in our local environment.

“I’ve partnered with Homebase’s Great British Green Up campaign to help all sorts of gardeners learn about biodiversity and how they can support it from their own spaces. All of our gardens, courtyards and balconies combined make up a space larger than the Lake District, so what may feel like a small change for you contributes to one big impact for all sorts of wildlife for years to come.”

Homebase pledges to not only support and encourage Brits to green up their outdoor spaces, but to be part of green up itself: “As well as sharing handy tips and tricks with our customers, we’re committing to help communities all over the UK and Ireland to continue to boost their biodiversity by pledging to support one local project in every region by the end of 2021.”

All Homebase stores in the UK are now open, with strict social distancing measures in place to protect the safety of both staff and customers.

For more information on the Great British Green Up, and to see Danny Clarke’s top tips on biodiversity visit Homebase.co.uk