Letting your lawn go to meadow is the latest ‘in thing’ in gardening, and people everywhere are leaving their grass to get overgrown and full of weeds in the hope of attracting wildlife.
Unfortunately in many cases you’re more likely to end up ruining your lawn and making your house look abandoned.
The potential pitfalls of this are wide-ranging:
But there are some easy ways to attract wildlife into a garden without having to abandon your lawn completely.
Even a small area of planting can have a big impact. Consider low-maintenance plants like borage to attract bees and butterflies and teasel to attract goldfinches in the autumn.
Use perennials and your garden will grow back year after year, while evergreens and woody deciduous shrubs should stay over winter too – a buddleia, also known as the ‘butterfly bush’, is one good deciduous shrubbery option.
You might be surprised that the RSPB’s guide to starting a wildflower meadow warns against planting wildflowers in rich soil.
Instead they recommend planting mustard for the first year to use up excess nutrients – again if you have a flowerbed or rockery filled with poor quality soil, planting common wildflowers can easily create a contained mini meadow area.
If your garden doesn’t have room for a meadow area, you could cut away just a few inches of turf around the edges and plant a mini meadow border.
This can give smaller gardens a beautiful edging, and as the foliage dies back ready for winter, the fairly narrow bare border should not be too distracting or unsightly either.
Don’t just focus on pretty wildlife like robins and butterflies – know what’s common in your local area and what’s beneficial to have around.
Bees are important and usually won’t sting you if undisturbed, so don’t be afraid to plant bee-friendly flowers, as well as bushes like roses that will attract ladybirds and in turn help control your aphid population.
Last but not least, creating a meadow in your lawn does not have to mean giving up on maintaining the grass – in fact for long-term health, some maintenance is essential.
Plant bulbs such as bluebells and daffodils that can grow through the grass, flower in a short space of time, and then die back to leave your lawn as before.
When they’re finished flowering, carefully remove the dead growth so it doesn’t clog up the root structure of your lawn, and leave the bulbs undisturbed so they’ll grow back next year.