Homeowners across the UK are being urged to let their grass grow during this month in a move to let wildflowers and plants flourish as part of ‘No Mow May’.
The campaign encourages gardeners to “take the mower out of action” to help “deliver big gains for nature, communities and the climate”.
Scientists at the charity Plantlife are asking the public to look out for wildflowers and other plants in their lawns as they put their lawnmowers and “liberate lawns”.
The 10 most common plants recorded during the campaign last year included daisies, creeping buttercup, yellow rattle, common bird’s-foot trefoil, field forget-me-not, meadow buttercup, white clover, common mouse-ear, oxeye daisy and dandelion.
Plant campaigners were pleased to see the appearance of yellow rattle on British lawns as the semi-parasitic plant possesses an unrivalled ability to act as “nature’s lawnmower”. It reduces coarser grasses and allows more delicate wildflowers to flourish.
Campaigners said the appearance of common bird’s-foot trefoil on lawns was also great news for other wildlife as it is a rich source of food for 140 insect species.
Nicola Hutchinson, director of conservation at Plantlife, told the Guardian: “Wild plants and fungi are the foundation of life and shape the world we live in. However, one in five British wildflowers is under threat and we need to urgently address and arrest the losses.
“With an estimated 23 million gardens in the UK, how lawns are tended makes a huge difference to the prospects for wild plants and other wildlife. The simple action of taking the mower out of action for May can deliver big gains for nature, communities and the climate, so we are encouraging all to liberate lawns as never before.”
Plantlife also said mowing the lawn less could help reduce the carbon footprint of British gardens. It estimates that Britain’s lawns could be cut as many as 30m times a year under a weekly regime, equivalent to the consumption of 45m litres of petrol and resulting in 80,000 tonnes of annual carbon dioxide emissions.
But a “radical shift in attitudes towards lawn management is underway” as the trend of having neat gardens is becoming less popular.
People are now beginning to mow their lawns less which “is to the benefit of plants, pollinators, people and planet”, Chief executive of Plantlife Ian Dunn said.
He added: “The immaculate bright green bowling green lawn with its neat stripes may have historically been the desired garden aesthetic, but increasingly we’re seeing a cultural shift which sees wilder lawns buzzing with bees and butterflies becoming highly valued.”