A wildflower meadow lawn with clover and yarrow

No Mow May – Give the mower a miss – your garden will thank you

If you’re a gardener you’ve probably seen or heard of No Mow May. The organisation Plantlife promotes the scheme, which encourages gardeners or any lawn-custodians such as local councils, to put the mower in the shed for the whole month. This is to help the natural grasses and flowers flourish, and is also vitally important for the success of natural pollinators such as butterflies and bees.

A wildflower meadow lawn with clover and yarrow

During this month Spring is in full swing and it’s an excellent time to let the grass grow. The whole ecosystem will benefit from longer grass; with hundreds of natural wildflower meadow and grasslands lost to agriculture and building over recent years it’s vital that we all try to replace a little of that lost land within our own gardens. Species that might be lurking dormant in your soil could include clover, common daisy, dandelion, campion, field poppy, and even bee orchids and snake’s head fritillaries if you’re really lucky. Usually, lawn-owners decapitate these poor species before they get a chance to pop their head above the picket fence, a terrible shame when you realise just how beautiful they are and how a natural wildflower lawn brings such joy and attracts more wildlife.

If you’re not entirely swayed and are somewhat attached to your manicured square of green, perhaps you could consider even marking a small area out for the grow treatment – such as a circle around the base of a tree, or a path cut through the long grass – intentional design that wouldn’t look out of place in a formal estate meadow. A friend of mine even mowed a spiral path into hers recently, which looked wonderful. Or perhaps you’re so taken by the longer grass and ensuing wildflowers you want to keep it? Should you wish to develop a more permanent feature of your wild lawn, you can get grass seed with added wildflower seed mixed in – so you can enjoy a mini-meadow of your own all year round.

No lawn of your own? You could consider asking the local council to take part in the scheme; either dedicating a roundabout or some wasteland or verge to it. In my city, several roundabouts are covered in cornflowers, field poppies and long grass – it’s really stunning and brings joy to the heart to see nature in a cityscape.

So far this month I’ve noticed daisies, buttercups and clover sprouting in my lawn, as well as dandelions and orange hawkweed (otherwise known as Fox and Cubs or Pilosella aurantiaca). Altogether it’s creating a very pleasing spectacle and is definitely attracting more wildlife as bees and the occasional butterfly visit the flowers.

Wild varieties are becoming more popular in gardens as was seen at the 2022 RHS Spring Festival, with a range of forget-me-nots, campion, and cow parsley used in designs – the winning design, in particular. Many of these are very well suited to British gardens as they are naturally hardy to the climate and soil. If you take a break from mowing, you might well see some of them appear in your garden. Give it a go and see what emerges. Plantlife have a count at the end of the month that you can join in with and share how many new plant species you’ve spotted – find it on their website