As the Spring gets into gear and fresh growth gets underway, there may be a slight groan at the thought of pulling out the lawn mower again from the back of the shed.
But take a moment and have a closer look at your grass in the garden, if you’re lucky enough to have one, and the grass around us in our green spaces, parks and verges.
The first thing to get on board is that what we might normally just think of as a simple expanse of the same plant is usually anything but. In the UK there are well over 100 different species of grass, and that’s before you start including similar looking plants like sedges and rushes. Often it is only by allowing grasses to grow long and flower that the differences and beauty stand out. You can start to identify some of the more common types like Meadow Foxtail, Cocksfoot and Timothy. Of course, within the grasses you often find a range of wildflowers – commonly in the garden you get the daisies, dandelions and plantains. The more natural the space is, a host of other plants are well adapted to grassland and meadows – in Crockwells Meadow, for example, you’ll find buttercup, ox-eye daisy, yarrow, clovers and some less obvious plants like celandine and lady’s smock. Over half of our wildflower species can be found in grassland. Wider areas of grass or small garden lawns are havens for wildlife looking for that tasty snack whether it’s for the various insects under the soil or wildlife above the grass. The lawn is a sweet shop for wildlife and there is always something for everyone. Whether it’s a juicy worm for the birds, a tasty snail for a hedgehog or a sup of nectar for a passing bee.
Greater variety and natural areas of grass which are allowed to flower provide a really important foundation for healthy nature.
With that in mind, do think about how you look to manage grass areas in your garden. Leave a margin if you can to grow up and flower over the summer and resist the habit of keeping it too neat and tidy until it’s time to cut back in late summer or autumn – it saves mowing time! Resist applying chemicals and instead look for the beauty and interest in a more natural look. Artificial grass may be a temptation for busy people – but bear in mind it lacks all the wildlife benefit, ends up in landfill and adds rather than subtracts for our carbon footprint.
On a wider scale the Environment Working Party and Greenspaces team will be working with the Parish Council to adopt more sensitive mowing regimes for public greenspace, as we saw in Crockwells Meadow last year. We may be able to have more natural margins developed in places like Spurfield and the Bowling Green.
Love your grass!