Thanet nature expert Nik Mitchell, from Minster, runs the Wildlife Conservation in Thanet page on facebook:
It’s May, this is the month we need to step out of our controlling habits, allow our gardens to flourish and embrace the wonders of nature.
Try to be less ‘obsessive’ about having a tidy lawn this month. Instead of spending your weekends creating your stereotypical stripes do something good for nature, put the lawn mower away, let it gather some dust and cobwebs in the shed. You can spend your spare time enjoying watching your grass grow and observing the wildlife you will attract.
There’s a campaign called ‘No Mow May’, #nomowmay is simply asking you to leave your lawn and let it grow for the month of May, this is a very easy way to bring life and excitement to your garden, which is particularly important if you have young children.
Allowing the plants to grow a bit unruly is a big help for insect wildlife. The mini jungle created by long grass gives creatures like bees, grasshoppers and butterflies a safe haven to hide in, and the wildflowers are great for pollinators too. Long grass is also particularly fun to play in.
‘No Mow May’ is a very simple concept which attempts to get people to change their habits and to get out of this obsessive, time consuming mindset of having an ordinary, orderly ‘garden’. I feel the campaign basically encourages people to be a bit more open minded and fun.
Wildlife decline seriously threatens the UK’s biodiversity, did you know that 97% of British wildflower meadows have disappeared since the 1930s? Help by playing your part, rewilding your garden can boost wildlife, increase pollinators and save money. Once you realise how exciting your lawn becomes in May, you’ll likely want to carry on letting it re-wild until Autumn.
My whole front lawn is left wild and it brings so much excitement to my family, especially my kids. To create an even bigger impact for wildlife we don’t mow our lawn at all in the spring and summer, we do however, cut a little winding path through the centre.
My lawn has become a kind of meadow in which we plant colourful wildflowers throughout the year. I don’t fully cut my lawn until the end of September; we then leave the summer mown grass on the lawn for a week in the sun to become ‘hay’ before raking it away. This helps release seeds to refresh the lawn for next year and also provide food for seed-eating birds and other wildlife.
Alongside playing your part, it is vitally important that we encourage Kent County Council and Thanet council to reconsider the way they manage our parks and roadsides. Many thousands of pounds could be saved by letting certain areas go wild.
Most of our roadsides, except near junctions due to visibility concerns, could be left wild. The margins of our open spaces and parks could be left to grow wild. We should have dedicated wild spots with accessible entrance paths in all green spaces, allowing everyone to have access to the wonders of wildlife.
Unfortunately, the council do receive complaints if the grass is left long as some people feel it looks ‘untidy’ however, there are numerous benefits to having wild areas and no benefits to having a complete ‘green desert’ apart from keeping the ‘tidy brigade’ happy.
Thanet is in a real climate emergency we simply HAVE to make the effort to change. We are talking wild patches, verges, margins and perimeters not wilding all of the green space, just as much as is practical.
The excuse of litter and dog mess is often used as a reason to get areas of grass cut but litter and poo happen equally on cut grass. Often mowers come along and shred tin cans and plastic litter into pieces too small to pick up, just masking the litter problem.
Besides, if you see a piece of litter be a decent person and pick it up! I am led to believe TDC are going to try easing off the obsessive, destructive litter shredding mowers this year and let some areas go wild. Please show your support for this movement and have a little think about all the benefits of having a bit of wild in your life.
So, this May, be less obsessive about tidiness and let your lawns transform into havens of biodiversity, bringing life, joy, discovery and excitement. We can all find room for a bit of wild in our lives, just let the grass grow wild for wildlife.