Grass

Give your mower a rest

Activity time:
Less than 2 hours
Difficulty level:
Easy
Suitable for:
Small garden, Large garden, Medium garden
To help:
Hedgehogs, Frogs, toads & newts, Lizards & snakes, Bees, Creepy crawlies, Dragonflies & damselflies, Bats, Butterflies & moths, Small mammals, Fungi, Birds

Mowing your lawn less, and letting parts of it grow long, saves you time and helps give nature a home.

Create a mini jungle through which beetles and other small creatures can wander and where sparrows and goldfinches may come to feed on the seeds. The grasses will set seed, wildflowers already in your lawn will grab their opportunity to bloom, and the longer stems will create a sheltered microclimate.

 

You can continue to give the mower a rest into autumn. But cutting it at the end of summer mimics the hay meadows of olden days. 

 

Are you doing this activity as part of your personal plan? Either take a look at your progress or create your own easy-to-follow personal plan to help you give nature a home where you live.

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What you will need

  • A lawn mower 
 Family Activity Event, Pink orchid in a wildflower meadow, Forest Farm, Wales

Step by step

  1. Decide which areas of your lawn you can leave to grow naturally. It could be all of your lawn, or just some of it. Some of you may leap at this great excuse to cut down on mowing. For others, you may be nervous about what the neighbours will think. Don't worry - there are simple ways to show you still care for your garden!



  2. Choose your 'management regime'! You can give your mower a rest for just a few weeks or for several months - the choice is yours. Here are the different techniques to try.



  3. The temporary meadow. At a beginner level, just let your lawn grow naturally for maybe a month in May or June, and mow as you normally would outside that time. Enjoy the plants which grab their opportunity to throw up some flowers - yes, you can love daisies!
  4. Create a spring meadow. If you want to have an even bigger impact for wildlife, don't mow your lawn at all in the spring until the end of June or early July. Then mow as normal until the grass stops growing in late autumn. This is the kind of meadow where you can plant gorgeous spring-flowering bulbs such as Snake's-head Fritillary.

  5. Create a summer meadow. Mow your lawn once in late March or early April and then leave it until August or September before mowing once or twice until the end of the autumn growing season. If there has been a wet spring, you might need to mow the lawn into May. This will minimise the risk of the grass laying over ('bolting') in mid-summer and looking untidy.

  6. Making it all look attractive. If you mow a border around your blocks of longer grass a so that they have neat borders, or mow paths through the middle, it can look really smart!

    They can be straight paths in a regular pattern, curving paths, or a mini-maze. Kids will love to run along them. There is extra wildlife incentive for mowing paths – there’s evidence that creatures actually like using the short paths to move through the meadow, darting into the longer grass to get food.

  7. Special added ingredients. If you want to make it even better, there are two tricks to try. One is planting plug plants of extra wildflowers into the lawn - bird's-foot trefoil, black knapweed and field scabious are excellent flowers to try. Or why not scatter some yellow rattle seed across the lawn in autumn; it taps into the grass roots, reducing their vigour, allowing other flowers to better thrive. You can help the yellow rattle germinate by raking the lawn first so that there are bits of soil visible.

  8. What you'll see. On a warm day in summer, get down at ground level and look closely. See what flowering plants were in your lawn all along but never had the chance to flower, such as clovers and speedwells. In high summer, expect to see butterflies, and if you're lucky you'll get grasshoppers. Recent studies in London parks found stopping regular mowing of even conventional grass gave nature a home.
Cut down mowing your lawn
Tree and rectangle
Cut down mowing your lawn
Island of longer grass

Giving your mower a rest

In this video clip, we show you the benefits of giving your mower a rest.

Give your mower a rest/Switch off/Relax

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Give your mower a rest video screenshot

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