Letting your lawn bloom for wildlife

Blog post by Helen Baczkowska on 09 Jul, 2019
Maintaining garden lawns is an English pastime, with hours spent mowing and aisles of fertilisers, moss-killers and weed-killers in every garden centre. Sadly most lawns, however lovely to look at, are wildlife deserts, barren of food for butterflies, bees or moths, empty of worms or insects and increasingly of the birds or hedgehogs that feed on them.

Many gardeners recognise this and are now looking for other ways to care for their patch of grass – finding alternatives that bring wildlife flocking to their plot, be it a large or small garden.

Creating a new wildflower meadow from your lawn is one approach, but it is often more suited to larger gardens and can take both time and money to establish. If you can establish a range of wild flowers, make sure you remove some of the top soil first to give them space to grow, use either plug-plants or seeds suited to your soil and leave the meadow uncut until everything has finished flowering. Cut with shears, scythe or strimmer, but check the area first, as frogs or hedgehogs can be hiding in the peace of the tall grass. Rake the cuttings off to keep the soil fertility down and if there is a lot of growth in the autumn, cut again and rake in October.
Selfheal, by David North

Selfheal, by David North



Another way is to let the wildflowers that are most likely already in your lawn flourish – you may not think they are there, but most lawns have creeping buttercups, daisies and dandelions, often clinging on in the seed bank of the soil. We think of these as ‘weeds’, but they are some of the best food sources for insects, rich in nectar and repeatedly flowering over a long period of time.

If you can adjust the blades of your mower, raise them to above 10 cm and leave a month between cuts, with no cuts at all in May, unless you need a path or a place to sit or play. You can vary this approach to your needs – mow around patches of flowers, cutting them on rotation every month so that there is always something in flower and again, always pick up the cuttings. If you want to plant some flowers suitable for this regime, choose selfheal, clovers, lesser bird’s foot trefoil, speedwells and meadow saxifrage.

The next step is over to you – on a sunny day, your garden will buzz and sing with life and in the time you could have spent mowing, sit down with a cuppa and enjoy the wild things on your own doorstep.
Share this

Latest Blog Posts

Litter picking Litter picking
by Maya Riches (guest author, age 10) on 18 Jun, 2019
What lies beneath the placid lake What lies beneath the placi...
by Mark Webster on 11 Jun, 2019
A stark and urgent call to action A stark and urgent call to ...
by David North on 13 May, 2019
Spring gardening: Helping hedgehogs Spring gardening: Helping h...
by Helen Baczkowska on 07 May, 2019
What A Waste What A Waste
by Maya Riches (guest author, age 10) on 01 May, 2019
Wacton Common Wacton Common
by Helen Baczkowska on 30 Apr, 2019
Leaving the nest Leaving the nest
by Mark Webster on 16 Apr, 2019
On the verge On the verge
by David North on 14 Apr, 2019
Making connections: why we need to come together to solve conservation problems Making connections: why we ...
by David North on 29 Mar, 2019
More flapwort than nettles More flapwort than nettles
by Jenny Jones (guest author) on 28 Feb, 2019
The Hickling Broad Nature Reserve The Hickling Broad Nature R...
by Barry Madden on 26 Feb, 2019
Six months with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Six months with the Norfolk...
by Steve Cox on 12 Feb, 2019
Hedgehogs in the winter garden Hedgehogs in the winter garden
by Helen Baczkowska on 05 Feb, 2019
World Wetlands Day 2019 World Wetlands Day 2019
by David North on 31 Jan, 2019
The 250 Club The 250 Club
by Dick Wingate on 31 Dec, 2018
Raptor Roost experience at Hickling Broad Raptor Roost experience at ...
by Rachel Frain & Jo Wright (guest author) on 28 Dec, 2018
How to help a hedgehog How to help a hedgehog
by Helen Baczkowska on 18 Dec, 2018
Beetlemania Beetlemania
by Chris Durdin on 13 Dec, 2018
The pride of Pigneys The pride of Pigneys
by Mark Webster on 04 Dec, 2018
Funding the day job Funding the day job
by Ginny Seppings on 20 Nov, 2018
In praise of ivy In praise of ivy
by Chris Durdin on 06 Nov, 2018
New wildlife information signs New wildlife information signs
by Steve Cox on 23 Oct, 2018
NWT's Visitor Centres NWT's Visitor Centres
by Steve Cox on 25 Sep, 2018
Seizing the moment Seizing the moment
by David North on 13 Sep, 2018