Is it Time to Have a Less Than Perfect Lawn?
Since the 1950s, many gardens (especially in the Western World) have had to have a well kept lawn as their focal point with gardeners going to great lengths to cut their grass every week - and to keep it neat and tidy with not a weed in sight.
This fashion arose because of great marketing by the companies making herbicides.
Before World War 2, lawns were usually a mix of grass and clover. It was only in the 1950s that herbicide companies mounted a major advertising campaign. This was to convince homeowners and keen gardeners that the clover in their grass lawns was a weed! This was done purely to sell their new herbicides which of course would kill clover - but not grass.
Clover was in fact considered so essential for lawns back in the day that it was a standard, even necessary, component in lawn seed mixes. You could not find a lawn seed mix without it!
And then the war began on broad leaf plants. And the ones who waged this war were the gardening and agricultural chemical companies, the very same companies who create the herbicides we use today.
Now some gardeners have gone full circle away from that perfect lawn look!
Why the tidy lawn look is not ideal for the environment
In fact it damages wildlife and the environment too.
- Cutting grass burns lots of fossil fuel.
- It is noise polluting.
- It can make the grassy area of your garden virtually sterile.
It is time to leave your lawn (or sections of it) and let it grow.
If you can let at least some of your grass grow longer, it is probably the single most effective thing you can do in any garden whatever its size to encourage wildlife - especially insects, small mammals, invertebrates and reptiles. The mini jungle created by long grass gives them a safe haven to hide in while encouraging the growth of wildflowers which are great for the bees.
You might like to create a meadow?
Create a spring meadow. If you want to have an even bigger impact for wildlife, don't mow your lawn at all in the spring until the middle of summer. Then mow as normal until the grass stops growing late in the fall. This is the kind of meadow where you can plant colourful spring-flowering bulbs in the fall to attract bees and butterflies.
Create a summer meadow. Mow once in late March or early April and then leave it until September before mowing once or twice in the fall. If there has been a wet spring, you might need to mow the lawn into May. This will minimise the risk of a messy untidy looking lawn in mid-summer. Wild flowers in the grass will appear.
- What about pathways in the grass. If you mow a border around your blocks of longer grass so that they have neat borders, or mow paths through the middle, it can look really special. They can be straight paths in a regular pattern, curving paths or even a mini-maze! These paths are good for wildlife too as it is said that many wild life creatures like using the short paths to move through the meadow before moving into the longer grass to get food.
- For an added ingredient. Try spreading wildflower seeds over the lawn in autumn so that all being well your wild patch will fill with color in the spring and summer. Come spring and summer they should have turned your wild patch into a beautiful meadow full of color inviting in the bees, the butterflies, the grasshoppers and more.