Monmouthshire County Council is urging people to lock up their lawnmowers for ‘No Mow May’. No Mow May was created by Plantlife as a way to encourage more people to allow spring flowers to bloom and provide food for bees, butterflies, moths and other pollinators.
Spring is the time of year that many wildflowers blossom and this first flush of nectar and pollen is essential for the survival of many insects, and the other birds and animals that feed on them. The No Mow May campaign has engaged many organisations and individuals including the National Trust, businesses, and celebrity gardeners such as Monty Don championing the cause.
Monmouthshire County Council will be taking part in No Mow May again this year, mowing areas only where there is a need, for example for safety at road junctions, to maintain pathways or to enable sports to be played. Citizen scientists who have taken part in Plantlife’s Every Flower Counts survey of household lawns have shown that reduced mowing can provide enough nectar for 10 times more pollinating insects. Researchers found 200 different plant species on lawns, some of them rarities such as eyebright and knotted clover. The most common flowers are daisies, white clover and selfheal, and over half a million individual flowers were counted during the surveys. More flowers are found on lawns that are cut every four weeks, because short stemmed flowers such as daisies, selfheal and dandelions have a chance to bloom. A greater variety of flowers, but not necessarily larger numbers, are found on lawns that are left to grow even longer.
Plantlife’s research shows the huge benefits to pollinators of mowing less frequently. They recommend that some areas are cut monthly to allow short stemmed flowers to bloom, and to leave other areas to grow long which encourages a wider range of plants to flower, and these will attract different pollinators such as hoverflies and a greater variety of bumblebees.
Monmouthshire’s Nature Isn’t Neat programme of reduced mowing fits with Plantlife’s findings, as many more green spaces will be mown less frequently across the County in an effort to support the nation’s struggling pollinators and insects. There are other important benefits to reduced mowing, for example, longer grass has a better root system, which opens up the soil and makes it more absorbent and better able to deal with the kind of heavy rainfall that a changing climate is bringing. Longer grass can also absorb more CO2, so can act as a carbon sink.
There is still time for local residents to take part in a survey to find out what local people think about mowing green spaces less often, and the impacts of this on wildlife and on people too.
The Nature Isn’t Neat programme has been funded by Welsh Government and National Heritage Lottery Fund and has enabled Monmouthshire County Council to purchase specialist machinery suitable for cutting and collecting longer grass, and provide information to local residents about the importance of these changes for supporting biodiversity.