No Mow May: Why are gardeners being asked to stop cutting the grass?

One in five British wildflowers is currently under threat  (Alamy Stock Photo)
One in five British wildflowers is currently under threat (Alamy Stock Photo)

Springtime is here and as May approaches, gardeners are being encouraged to pay close attention to their home gardens.

The way we tend to green spaces and what modern gardening methods we use all impact carbon emissions.

A new campaign has been launched to raise public awareness of the need to tend to our garden lawns differently.

Here’s everything you need to know about No Mow May.

What is No Mow May?

“No Mow May” is a campaign launched by scientists at the charity Plantlife to encourage the public to look out for wildflowers and other plants in their lawns.

Nicola Hutchinson, the director of conservation at Plantlife, said: “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 23m 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.”

Common wildflowers you can find in your garden

The 10 most common plants recorded during the campaign last year were 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 especially pleased to witness the proliferation of yellow rattle on British lawns.

This is because the semi-parasitic plant has an uncanny ability to act as “nature’s lawnmower”.

It reduces coarser grasses and allows more delicate wildflowers to flourish.

Additionally, the appearance of common bird’s foot trefoil on lawns was excellent news for other wildlife because it’s a rich source of food for 140 insect species.

How do gardens contribute to carbon emissions?

Contrary to popular belief, not all gardening benefits the environment, but according to Plantlife, mowing the lawn less often could help reduce the carbon footprint of British gardens.

It estimated that Britain’s lawns could be cut thirty million times a year under a weekly regime.

This would be the same as consuming 45m litres of petrol, resulting in 80,000 tonnes of annual carbon dioxide emissions – or the combined carbon footprint of about 10,000 average households.

But now that the trend for neat gardens is becoming less popular, people are mowing their lawns less.

Ian Dunn, the chief executive of Plantlife, said: “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.

“A radical shift in attitudes towards lawn management is underway and it is to the benefit of plants, pollinators, people and the planet.”