Ahead of the new series of BBC Gardeners’ World airing next week (Friday 19 March, BBC Two, 8pm), Monty Don has called on gardeners to take a more relaxed approach to mowing their lawns to allow nature to thrive. Sarah Mead, creator of the Yeo Valley Organic Garden wholeheartedly agrees.
“If you only do one thing this year to improve your garden’s value for nature, be more like Monty and cut your grass less, or not at all,” says Sarah Mead, Head Gardener at Yeo Valley Organic and creator of the Yeo Valley Organic Garden in Somerset. “Monty is absolutely right to highlight our obsession with keeping our lawns neat and tidy and frankly I was shocked to read how much negativity he has faced as a result of his recent Radio Times interview. Come on gardeners, would a little less cutting really be such a bad thing?!”
The UK’s climate is perfectly suited to allow grass and the many species of beneficial plants that share our lawns to thrive, but regular cutting deprives essential pollinators of an important food source. According to PlantLife, the British conservation charity behind the No Mow May initiative, allowing your lawn to grow naturally for just a single month can provide enough nectar for ten times the amount of bees and other pollinators than a regularly cut lawn.
Sarah continues, “Global biodiversity is in decline and our climate is warming. It’s essential that we all recognise the small changes we can make that have a huge collective impact on our environment. Putting your feet up instead of getting the mower out is top of the list!”
Yeo Valley Organic Garden is supporting PlantLife’s No Mow May challenge this year and taking part in the charity’s Every Flower Counts campaign. The garden team will be showing throughout the year how less cutting not only improves your lawn’s value for nature, but can also provide a fun and cheap way to add more interest to your garden’s design. Following a full assessment of the formal lawn areas at the Blagdon garden, 2/3 of the grass will not be mowed at all in 2021, leaving only the heavy footfall areas regularly trimmed. In addition, all garden tools, including mowers, at the Yeo Valley Organic Garden are now powered electronically, eliminating the need for fossil fuels and making garden maintenance quieter for both people and wildlife.
You’re only FIVE steps away from a wildlife rich lawn:
1. Give your lawn an early spring trim to tidy up winter growth and then decide which parts of your lawn you can comfortably allow to grow long in 2021.
2. Add a mix of wildflower seeds to general-purpose lawn seed for a spring sowing of the areas you intend to leave uncut and mulch over with organic compost. We suggest equal amounts of ox eye daisy, red clover and field scabious.
3. Allow your lawn to self-seed and your wildflower mix to bloom
4. Commit to only cutting the areas you need to keep short, for example for ease of movement around the garden and children’s ball games
5. Try cutting a trail or maze into your longer grass and listen to the buzz of pollinators as you wander through
The Yeo Valley Organic Garden in Somerset will open its gates to visitors again on 21 April, Covid-19 restrictions permitting. Sarah’s inspirational, seasonal planting and sympathetic design offer great ideas for how to choose organic principles in your own garden while enjoying year-round colour and form. The garden has inspired the design of a show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021. Designed by award-winning garden designer Tom Massey, who recently starred in the new BBC series Your Garden Made Perfect, the Chelsea show garden will offer visitors more ideas for how to make small but significant steps for nature this year.
For more information about visiting the Yeo Valley Organic Garden in Blagdon, Somerset, visit yeovalley.co.uk/the-organic-garden