This month is No Mow May, when gardeners are encouraged to let their grass grow wild – think of it as being like Movember for your lawn!
It’s an initiative that takes place this time each year, and is the brainchild of the conservation charity Plantlife, which aims to support British wildflowers, plants and fungi.
As part of those efforts, the organisation wants UK households to let their grass grow long during May, and even to let the weeds grow through.
While we’re all about a well-kept lawn that’s free from weeds, we’re not at all opposed to the idea of a meadow area, which can bring in the bees, butterflies and attract other garden wildlife.
Whether you leave your lawn to do its own thing for a month, or create a dedicated year-round meadow space, there are many reasons to give No Mow May a go.
So why is this so important, and how can you join in?
You might call them weeds, or you might call them wildflowers, but normally when they grow through your lawn, they’re not welcome.
But Plantlife’s surveys in previous years have found rare blooms like meadow saxifrage, adder’s tongue fern, snake’s head fritillary and eyebright growing through uncut lawns.
Even if all you get is dandelions, you’re helping the bees more than you’d think. On one lawn in 2021, Plantlife found 85 times more daisies than dandelions. Yet the dandelions produced almost a tenth of the total pollen and over a third of the garden’s nectar.
Ian Dunn, CEO of Plantlife, said: ‘The results underline how embracing a little more wildness in our gardens can be a boon for plants, butterflies and bees.’
Joining in No Mow May is easy – just leave some or all of your lawn to grow wild, with any flowers (yes, even weeds!) allowed to grow through and bloom too.
If you have dandelions, you might want to compromise by removing them once they’ve flowered, before they grow their ‘dandelion clock’ seed heads. That way, you shouldn’t be overrun by them next year.
On May 21st-30th, participants are invited to count the number of wildflowers in a square metre of lawn, to see how your garden compares with others around the country. Join over 4,300 other households and learn how many bees your garden’s pollen and nectar can support!
A weed-free manicured lawn is a beautiful thing, and of course we’re not suggesting you should lay a turf lawn only to leave it to go wild – it’s all about balance and getting what you need from your garden.
But giving yourself a month off from mowing is no bad thing either, and can allow your grass to grow stronger before the busy summer season of garden parties and barbecues.
Even a small dedicated meadow space can keep your garden in balance. You can plant daffodils, bluebells and wildflowers to grow back year after year for some spring-summer colour with almost no maintenance required.
Not only will you be helping out the butterflies and bees, but you’ll also be giving them their own place to buzz around in peace, well away from you, your family and your friends.