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Let your grass grow…and invite wildlife in

20/09/2010 13:52:36

GO WILD: Leaving grass to grow long creates a good wildlife habitat

How to make your garden a haven for wildlife
September 2010: If we want to encourage diversity in our gardens, we need to look at changing the traditional way that we tend for them. Out go the carefully manicured stripes and in their place comes a slightly wilder, longer look - perfect for wildlife.

Earlier this year lawn-mowing firm John Deere launched National Gardens Park - a campaign to protect domestic garden lawns from the ravages of car parking, building and hard landscaping. The suggested new mowing regime is part of this work.

‘We recognise that the traditional British lawn of low-cut stripes is not particularly valuable to wildlife. We want to encourage greater bio-diversity among lawn owners. Our changing weather patterns now urgently demand that we revise the way we mow,' says John Deere's David Hart.

The RSPB agrees and has some useful advice for gardeners. The charity's urban adviser, John Day, says: ‘We believe that the humble lawn is a hugely undervalued wildlife resource. By raising the height of cut and setting aside a long area of grass, people can make an important contribution to their local wildlife.'

‘Lawns are becoming vital refuelling stations'
Leaving a specific area of the lawn uncut so that the wild flowers bloom and seed heads develop on the grasses will help bees, butterflies and some garden birds says Paul Wilkinson, head of Living Landscape at the Wildlife Trust: ‘With the steady disappearance of traditional pastures, garden lawns are turned to as vital refuelling stations for birds and insects in the search for food.'

Many gardeners already work with their lawns in alternative ways moving away from a mono-culture lawn with intense close cutting to more eco-friendly methods. Speaking about its 3,500 strong open gardens, Julia Grant, NGS Gardens Open for Charity (The National Gardens Scheme), said: ‘Many of the NGS gardens open to the public across the country offer wonderful examples of ingenious alternatives to the traditional lawn: chamomile, moss, bog gardens or flower meadows as well, of course, as grass.'

‘Many of our garden owners are committed to preserving and attracting wildlife and John Deere's National Gardens Park us a valuable contribution to the debate,' added Julia.

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