Stop mowing your lawn for nature

Activity
Long grass with a cobweb suspended between the blades
Under an hour
Spring Summer Autumn
Easy

Mowing your lawn less saves you time and makes a big difference to the wildlife in your garden. Create a mini jungle for beetles and other small creatures to wander and where sparrows and goldfinches can come to feed on the seeds. The grasses will set seed, wildflowers can bloom and provide nectar, and the longer stems will create a sheltered microclimate. Avoid using strimmers too, as they can injure hedgehogs, frogs and insect larvae. If you can resist mowing your lawn until late summer, this will mimic the hay meadows of old.

Long grass with a cobweb suspended between the blades

Step-by-step guide

Bee on flower

Decide which areas of your lawn you can leave to grow naturally

It could be all of it, or just a section. Even mowing less frequently will help, as well as setting your mower to a higher cut. Make sure that areas surrounding bird baths and feeders are kept mown, to precent long grass providing shelter for predators.

There are several different lawn management regimes you can try (detailed below).

Whatever you choose, try to keep it roughly the same each year so your plants can set seed and thrive.

The temporary meadow

At a beginner level, just let your lawn grow naturally for a month in May or June, and mow as you normally would outside that time. This will allow Daisy and Clover to flower, and you see pollinators enjoying your lawn.

The spring meadow

If you want to have a bigger impact for wildlife, don't mow your lawn at all until early July. Then mow as normal until the grass stops growing in late autumn. This is the kind of meadow where you can plant spring-flowering bulbs like crocus and early daffodils. As they ‘die back’ you could have cow slips coming through along with bulbs such as snakes head fritillary.

The 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. This will mimic the old hay meadows and will suit flowers like Corn Marigold and birds-foot-trefoil. Letting your grass grow until late summer provides shelter and delights for your garden critters.

Making your garden look great

Mowing a border around your blocks of longer grass, or paths through the middle, can make your lawn look smart. These could be straight paths in a regular pattern, curving paths or a mini maze. Let your imagination run as wild as your garden!