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No Mow May is the perfect starting point to get your greenspace on track for a wild summer. You’ve taken the first step – now learn more about how to manage your wild lawn all year round!
“Where flowers bloom, so does hope” – Lady Bird Johnson
You’ve taken the first step! Thank you so much for signing up to No Mow May – whether this is your first year or your fourth, you are contributing to a national movement to bring colour and life back into our green spaces. This page contains exclusive information to get you on your way to a successful No Mow May!
We don’t need to venture far afield to make space for nature. Our lawns and green spaces can be colourful kingdoms of organisms all coexisting, bursting with life and potential. Take a closer look. Your lawn is an ecosystem in itself – below the ground there’s a complex world of fungi and microbes living among the roots.
Above the soil, plants form mini jungles which shelter, feed, and support all kinds of beasties from insects to birds and mammals. Our valuable green spaces can be teeming with life across the seasons – if we only give them a little room to grow.
With over 23 million gardens in the UK, even the smallest grassy patches add up to a significant proportion of our land which, if managed properly, can deliver enormous gains for nature, communities, and the climate.
Consider starting short for spring.
Your April lawn may already be a showcase for early wildflowers such as Primrose, Cowslip, Lady’s-smock, Lesser Celandine or violets. If you have a spring-flowering lawn featuring those species, you may want to avoid mowing in April, consider restricting your spring mowing to March with a blade setting high enough to pass over the emerging leaves of your spring flowers.
Have a lawn without these early spring blooms? Many wildflowers make their best start to the season from a short lawn. This is because fast growing grass can smother wildflower seedlings growing slowly through autumn and winter. An end of season close mow in late autumn may be good enough to ‘start from short’ in spring but you may need to make a first cut in early spring from March to April. Choose a time when the ground is reasonably dry and collect your cuttings if you are removing more than a centimetre or half an inch of growth.
Aim to maintain at least two lengths of grass throughout and beyond No Mow May.
May marks the onset of the summer and the start of a season full of brilliant blooms, colour and life! That buzz doesn’t die down at the end of May and will continue well into autumn. Giving some areas a monthly cut will surprisingly let shorter flowers multiply, boosting nectar production. Leaving other areas longer will support more specialist, tall plant species, which feed and shelter an array of animal life. Some completely untouched grassy strips left along hedgerows and fences will create effective ecological corridors along which wildlife can move. Variety is key for a wilder garden!
Our native species have evolved in a wild and varied landscape. To support as many of them as possible we need to replicate this diversity where we can. This means there’s no one ‘best’ way of managing your lawn for wildlife – using a diversity of gardening methods will maximise the number of species your garden can support.
Data shows that the lawns with the highest number of wildflowers are those which have patches of various grass lengths. Introducing a variety of different grass lengths in your garden creates lots of different microhabitats in which a large range of species can live and thrive.
Short grass areas are those which are mown once every four weeks or so. This regime allows smaller plants such as Daisies and Bird’s-foot-trefoil to flower in profusion, providing a fabulous food source. Short grass areas will also attract many insects, such as mining bees that create their burrows in the ground.
The highest production of flowers and nectar can be seen on lawns cut once every four to 6 weeks.
We recommend cutting to 2.5 to 5cm. You’ll cut off some flowers when you do mow, but they’ll come back quickly; you can even rotate patches around your garden so there are always some areas in flower. Part of the plant falls beneath the mower blades and continues growing – this occasional cutting stimulates the plants to put out more flowers, giving a botanical boost to increase nectar production.
Wildflowers that benefit include:
‘Meadow’ areas are mown with cuttings collected just 2-3 times per year outside of April-August inclusive. These spaces can be the perennial herbaceous borders you never need to weed, feed or water. They allow taller growing summer flowers to flourish like Oxeye Daisy, Meadow Cranesbill, Musk Mallow, knapweeds and scabiouses but can incorporate spring flowering species as well such as Cowslip and violets.
To manage your meadow, whether mini or magnificent, follow this calendar to encourage wild blooms and life into your garden.
Areas of longer grass left completely unmown from spring to autumn are home to a wider range of wildflowers. Long grass areas can be left unmown through late spring and summer, allowing taller species such as Oxeye Daisy, Field Scabious, Red clover, knapweeds and even orchids to flourish. These increase the range of nectar sources for different pollinators and extend nectar production well into the autumn.
Some areas should be left completely uncut all year round. It’s particularly important to leave grassy strips close to hedgerows and other habitat corridors wild. These long grasses provide valuable feeding material, shelter, and nesting sites for species such as hedgehogs and toads – connecting them across our landscape.
By allowing parts of your lawn provide structure and shelter, you can accommodate the full lifecycles of insects like brown and skipper butterflies, moths, crickets and grasshoppers. Voles, mice and shrews together with frogs, toads, newts and lizards can all benefit from the cover provided by the tussocks of ‘structural grassland’ left to overwinter perhaps at the edges of your lawn.
We know that some parts of your garden will need to be kept short, such as paths and recreational lawns for playing. Just think carefully about where, and how large, these patches need to be. Any relaxation of the mowing regime in these areas will have huge effects on the number of flowering plants in your garden and give wildlife that much needed support throughout the summer.
Achieving this diversity in lawn length can be done creatively, such as having short grass paths winding their way through wilder swathes of long grasses. This way, you can create a wildlife haven suited to the character of your garden.
Creating a range of grass lengths around your garden will have the biggest benefit for biodiversity. We need to break away from the narrative that wilder gardens are simply neglected or overgrown; after all, the habitat for many of our wildflowers would have been maintained in a natural landscape by wild grazing animals. These areas should be valued as beautiful sanctuaries, sheltering and supporting an enormous number of species.
If you want to do that bit more for nature, commit to a longer-term change in mowing to see biodiversity blossoming across the season and beyond using our above guidance. Over time, more and more plants species will arrive if you give them a chance – long-term participation in No Mow May over consecutive years will see the greatest benefits for nature.
By signing up for this campaign you have become a seed of hope, championing the promise of a wild summer at a time when it’s never been more important to support our plant and animal species. There is enormous strength in collective action, and every single person involved in this campaign is contributing to a healthy, buzzing, nationwide garden in which nature can thrive and flourish. Thank you – the results are going to be beautiful.
From top tips on creating a welcoming home for nature in your garden, to crafty activities for our very youngest ‘NoMow’ers. Updated weekly in May!
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