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Creating a meadow is a really simple way to bring the local community together, whilst doing something positive for nature.

You don’t need to be an expert to start one – we’ve shared our tips for how to begin, what to plant, how to manage your green space year-round and how to engage the community.

So, what are community meadows? They are areas, predominantly of grassland, that are owned and managed by the community, such as parks, road verges, school grounds, village greens, church land or fields.

A meadow with Oxeye daisies, lush green grass and woodlands in the background

Why should you start a community meadow?

  • For the benefit of nature
  • To create an ecosystem where wildlife can flourish
  • Bring the community together
  • To bring nature into towns and cities
  • Help tackle biodiversity loss and store carbon

Read more: How to grow a wildflower meadow

Getting started

Now you’ve decided to try and start a community meadow, it’s hard to know where to begin. We’ve got plenty of experience and advice to help you along the way.

Contact your local council – Whether it’s parish, town or district council, reaching out to your local decision makers to promote wildlife-friendly management can make a big difference. Local support can really help to bring about change, whether that’s through a volunteer group or social media page. Check out our Good Meadows Guide for some convincing arguments.

Positive perceptions – Some people might be concerned that not cutting a greenspace as regularly might make it look neglected and untidy. But, framing a greenspace by cutting narrow strips around the wildflower area can offset some negative perceptions. Other concerns about plant height for road safety can be tackled by growing shorter species, which can still support an array of pollinators such as clovers, trefoils, Selfheal and Yarrow.

Communicating at every step – Telling people what and why you are creating a meadow is crucial for understanding. By bringing the community with you and working together, it will be easier to explain the benefits of meadow making. You could write something in the local magazine, talk about your meadow-making journey on social media or put up a sign.

Community activities – Bringing the community together to help create a meadow can be very beneficial. You can run activities, join campaigns or hold events to gather momentum.

  • Plantlife’s No Mow May is a great starting point to encourage the community to take part in a community meadow and see the benefits. People without their own gardens can actively get involved in helping wildlife, tackling pollution and even locking carbon beneath the ground. And those with their own green spaces can take their enthusiasm home and do #NoMowMay in their own gardens. Sign up your green space or garden here.

 

How to fund a community meadow?

If you need some help funding your community meadow, these places might be able to offer support:

  • Charity Commission – A range of charities offer funding for community meadows. You need to complete an advanced search under ‘how the charity helps’.
  • Local Supermarket Community Grants – Most supermarkets support local causes through tax on carrier bags or instore tokens such as Tesco, Asda and Co-op. 
  • Postcode Local Trust – Grants of up to £2,000 for community interest groups and voluntary organisations are up for grabs.
  • Local Community Foundations – They channel funding to local projects and will be able to advise on where to access support.
  • Local Councils – Contacting your local authority and asking them about available funding is definitely worth a shot.
  • Area’s of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks – If your meadow lies in either of these areas, it’s worth contacting your local organisation to see if there is any funding available.
  • Lottery – Small lottery grants, worth £300-£10,000 are available across the UK.

We hope that this helps you in creating a wonderful community meadow. Do let us know on social media when you have tried these methods and your progress in creating a meadow by tagging us.

Find a meadow group near you:

Are you feeling inspired, but not sure where to start? Aside from Plantlife’s guidance, a great source of  knowledge and personal support can be from meadow groups. A huge variety of groups exist across the country, who manage meadows for hay, livestock or community benefits. These groups could also be good places to start when searching for local seeds or advice.

If you would like to add your community meadow group to our list, please get in touch here.

More ways to learn about wild plants and fungi

How to Start a Community Meadow?

How to Start a Community Meadow?

Want to start a community meadow, but not sure where to begin? Read our guide to creating a flower-filled haven for your local community.

How to Grow a Wildflower Meadow
Wildflower meadow landscape with a variety of species near Cardiff, Wales

How to Grow a Wildflower Meadow

Whether it’s your back garden, local park, community field or lawn, wildflower meadows are amazing spaces with so much to offer.

The Wildlife in our Meadows
Duke of Burgundy butterfly on cowslip.

The Wildlife in our Meadows

From bumblebees to birds and moths to mammals – meadows are micro-cities of wildlife. Here's what to spot in your wildflower meadow.

Meadows come to life in the spring and summer, bursting with vibrant wildflowers and buzzing with insects and animals. But species-rich grassland areas, which used to occur commonly throughout Britain, are now amongst the most threatened habitats in the UK.

Approximately 97% of wildflower meadows have been lost across the UK since the 1930s. That’s why wildflowers and meadows are not only beautiful staples of the British countryside, but also crucial habitats that need restoring.

Why are meadows so amazing?

  • They are important ecosystems
  • Species-rich grasses can significantly improve carbon storage in the soil
  • They provide a brilliant habitat for bees, butterflies, birds and small mammals
  • Old grasslands can have very diverse fungal networks
  • In fact, 140 plant species can be found in a single meadow

WATCH: Not just a pretty space, this is a living space

So, the more areas that can be turned into wildflower meadows, the better things get for nature.

No matter the size of your land, the process of making a wildflower meadow is pretty much the same. Follow these steps to start your meadow-making journey:

Cut the grass

Before sowing seed, in late summer or autumn, you must cut the grass as short as possible. The cuttings must then be removed because most meadow species thrive in nutrient-poor soil with low fertility levels. Leaving the cuttings on the grass to rot down, both stifles delicate seedlings, and adds nutrients.

This can easily be done using a strimmer or mower and the cuttings removed with a rake.

Tackle any problem plants

It is really important to control any problem plants that could prevent your meadow from thriving. For example, species such as Nettle, Creeping Thistle and Dock can rapidly spread and crowd wildflowers in poorly managed meadows.

To stop this, it is best to pull these plants out by hand, cut their heads before they set seed or spot spray them. Bramble and scrub will also need to be controlled before creating a meadow.

If you have lots of problem plants, it will be easier (if possible) to try and create a meadow on another piece of land.

Create bare ground

Bare ground is simply an area that has no plants living in it. It provides germination gaps and growing space for meadow flowers and grasses. Having about 50-70% of land as bare ground will increase your chances of creating a wildflower meadow.

This can be done by hand with vigorous raking, strimming or using a rented garden scarifier.

Sow seeds

Sprinkle and gently trample in your seeds, which can be mixed with sand for easier spreading. During drier spells, water the ground if possible, but do not wash away the seeds.

Then, over the next few months pull up any Creeping Thistle and Dock or cut the flower heads off and remove before they set seed (these can spread fast and smother wildflowers).

Knowing a bit about your soil can also really help you to choose which seeds to sow. There are many factors that can influence what will grow including the soil type, fertility, location, weather, availability of light and what’s already growing there.

Don’t worry if your meadow looks a bit plain in its first year, many perennials take at least a couple of years to establish.

We hope that these tips help you in creating a wonderful meadow. Do share your meadow-making journey with us on social media by tagging us.

More ways to learn about wild plants and fungi

The Wildlife in our Meadows
Duke of Burgundy butterfly on cowslip.

The Wildlife in our Meadows

From bumblebees to birds and moths to mammals – meadows are micro-cities of wildlife. Here's what to spot in your wildflower meadow.

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What happens when you don’t cut your lawn in May?

With 1 in 5 British wildflowers under threat it is more important than ever to change the way we mow our lawns.

These wildflower stuffed lawns show that in over just a month, your grassy spaces can be a lifeline for wildlife. This gallery shows that people, wild plants, and pollinators alike can live side by side in a thriving green space.

Shorter flowering lawns are a haven for daisies and dandelions, whereas longer patches allow taller plants like Oxeye Daisies and Musk Mallow to bloom.

The nation went blooming wild for plants

No Mow May doesn’t stop at your garden fence. Whole towns and cities bloomed with wildflower as councils and communities let their green spaces grow.

Schools embraced the magic of wild plants with beautiful signs and window displays, sewing the seed for future No Mow May’s that are bigger and wilder than ever before.

View more No Mow May lawn inspiration

Watch the latest No Mow May results sent to us on our YouTube channel, and stay tuned for the latest updates as we head into our wildest summer yet.

How to Start a Community Meadow?

How to Start a Community Meadow?

Want to start a community meadow, but not sure where to begin? Read our guide to creating a flower-filled haven for your local community.

How to Grow a Wildflower Meadow
Wildflower meadow landscape with a variety of species near Cardiff, Wales

How to Grow a Wildflower Meadow

Whether it’s your back garden, local park, community field or lawn, wildflower meadows are amazing spaces with so much to offer.

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Now the growth season moves into June, things don’t have to get messy or overgrown, but you can still maintain a space for your local wildlife. You might be concerned that if you let things grow any higher your mower may no longer be able to do its job! 

We have some ideas about how you can build on your success while keeping things under control! 

A mown lawn with tools used for cutting grass, surrounded by a flowering tall grass border

So, what comes next?

If your grassy growth has got away from you, don’t panic. Not all mowers can cope with tall vegetation but most can if you mow in two stages.

Firstly, check your lawn for wildlife – and never mow around the edges towards the centre, this leaves no escape route for wildlife. Instead, as you mow, progress gradually towards sanctuary areas such as uncut grass strips at boundaries.

Next, set the blades as high as possible then mow strips only half as wide as the mower. This will reduce the load on the mower’s engine and make the job easier. You can then re-pass as normal with blades set lower to finish the job. Alternatively, if you have one, a strimmer can be a better way to tackle a taller sward.

But wait!

Now you have an opportunity to design your wildflower landscape.  Grassland wildlife comes in different flavours and you could incorporate these different elements into your plan. 

You might need to keep your paths and recreation areas mown short but perhaps you could frame these functional areas with a flowering lawn mown once every 4 to 8 weeks. This allows common, low-growing wild flowers to regrow and reflower throughout the summer while you maintain a shorter, neater height. Picture a carpet of red and white clovers, golden trefoils, puddles of blue selfheal and the white froth of yarrow.  You will find that even in the fiercest droughts, the wildflowers will stay green and keep flowering while grasses fall dormant and turn brown. 

Buff tailed bumblebee feeding on Knapweed

Let it grow…

If you are feeling bolder you might want to trial leaving some of your open space unmown for longer. By mowing only twice a year outside of April to July you could try to recreate the effect of a traditional hay meadow. This allows taller growing flowers such as red campions, purple knapweeds and mauve scabious to grace your space with a more dynamic swirl of colours animated by a summer breeze. You can picture this flavour of grassland as a perennial, herbaceous border you never need to weed feed or water. It holds more value for wildlife because when left undisturbed for longer, wildflowers and grasses can support the lifecycles of those invertebrates that depend upon them.  

The more adventurous among you may want to take it to the next stage around the boundary of your plot. Grassland left unmown won’t support so many wildflowers but will provide vital sanctuary for wildlife during hot summers and cold winters. Tussocks of grass and tall herbs will develop, and this structure is a great way to provide another niche for wildlife that complements the more flower-rich areas. Such sanctuary strips need only be a few feet wide at the base of your hedgerow and they only require a minimum of management when you snip out woody saplings or the bramble gets too muchYou will be providing vital protection for toads and voles while seedheads will act as natural bird feeders for visiting finches.  

When you cut, don’t forget to…

Watch out for Wildlife

Some wildlife may have taken refuge in your liberated lawn. Here are some quick tips for keeping wildlife safe while you mow:

  • Hand search areas of longer grass for small mammals , like hedgehogs, before you begin the cutting process.
  • Work gradually parallel to the shelter the wildlife can move towards, so you are moving closer to the shelter one mower’s width at a time.
  • Work from paths and high footfall areas towards the boundaries to allow disturbed wildlife to move towards cover gradually.
  • Making a first pass with a high blade setting on your mower will help to flush wildlife before making a lower -repass for a neater finish.

Collect or rake off your cuttings when you cut.

This will prevent the build-up of cuttings which can stifle the regrowth of wildflowers.  With no cuttings to rot back down into the soil, it will also help to reduce the fertility of the soil. More fertility gives the advantage to your grass over your flowers. This produces a lush green lawn but it will be much less colourful and much less valuable for wildlife.  

Long cut grass in a wheelbarrow on a garden lawn

If collecting up or raking off your cuttings seems like more work, remember that you are actually saving effort by managing some zones less frequently.  This means that you don’t have to mow everywhere all at once every time.  In fact, by removing the cuttings each time you cut, fertility will reduce each year meaning that regrowth will be less and less each year. That means you won’t need to cut so often in the future so you can save yourself the effort, reduce your carbon footprint and enjoy the wildlife! Wilder lawns also capture and lock away more carbon in the soil, so you will be doing your bit for the climate too. 

You can use cuttings to mulch your vegetable beds to suppress weeds, retain soil moisture and add fertility where you want it.  Composting is also a great way to recycle your cuttings with other organics into soil you can use next season. 

Your choice…

So, your lawn or your open space is your canvas, and you hold the paintbrush. You can rekindle wildflowers from those that are already present and the seeds that have remained naturally dormant in the soil.  You might also consider introducing some native perennial wildflower seed or native perennial wildflower plants this autumn.  We will have more advice on this later in the year.

However you choose to enjoy your new wildlife area, we wish you every success. Now that you have added a little more colour to the world, we hope you are rewarded with the fizz of grasshoppers, the delight of birdsong and a space that dances with butterflies and buzzes with pollinators. 

How to Start a Community Meadow?

How to Start a Community Meadow?

Want to start a community meadow, but not sure where to begin? Read our guide to creating a flower-filled haven for your local community.

Peat-free horticulture for plants, people and planet
Yellow flowers of Bog Asphodel among grass and other bog plants.

Peat-free horticulture for plants, people and planet

Extraction of peat for gardening and horticulture continues to damage wildlife and our climate, despite government commitments to phase it out. Plantlife is calling on governments and industry to end the use of peat in gardening and horticulture to benefit nature and our climate. 

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Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Discover the gnarled woodlands on the wildest peaks in Wales, as Robbie Blackhall-Miles reveals the secrets of Eryri’s miniature but magical Juniper forests.

What impact will my artificial lawn have?

Tragically, approximately 97% of Britain’s wildflower meadows have been destroyed since the 1930s.  

This makes the loss of remaining grasslands – whether the garden lawn or on the road verge – even more important for wildflowers, insects and other wildlife. Flower-rich lawns carpeted in daisies, buttercups and clover provide a bounty of pollen and nectar for pollinators who simply cannot survive in a plastic environment.  

With more than 20 million gardens in the UK, artificial grass in our gardens is an opportunity lost for nature’s recovery.  

While there is a time and place for artificial grass in, for example, high performance sports pitches in towns and cities, when it comes to gardens you simply can’t beat the real thing. Grassland habitats such as garden lawns are home to thousands of wild plants that, in turn, support a wonderful wealth of other wildlife.    

Artificial grass

Is it really that bad for nature?

Using the latest estimates, an artificial lawn of 60sqm for an average urban garden will create about 435kg CO2e of greenhouse gas emissions through the plastic manufacturing process.  

Simply by leaving your lawn as real grass and introducing less frequent mowing, you’re reducing the carbon emissions of your lawn. You’ll also be creating a habitat by allowing wildflowers to flourish, which have the potential to absorb even more carbon into our soil for the future.  

Artificial turf also adds to the heat island effect; this is when often urban areas become hotter than rural areas, which is amplified during heatwaves. As well as being too hot to enjoy in summer, micro-plastic shedding artificial lawns are difficult to recycle – a problem we don’t want to be leaving future generations to deal with. 

Blue Butterfly on a grass lawn

Disconnected from daisies

Artificial grass is not just to the detriment of wildlife but to us, too; children can’t make a daisy-chain on a plastic lawn.  

The increasing popularity of artificial grass underlines how disconnected we are becoming from the natural world around us. Polling undertaken by YouGov for Plantlife revealed that 80% of people couldn’t name Common Dog-violet which grows in 97% of the UK, and only 11% of 16-24 year-olds felt confident they could name wild flowers. Given this steep decline in knowledge and appreciation which is also reflected in further education, it is perhaps little wonder that many of us feel comfortable with artificial ‘low maintenance’ solutions, despite warnings about global plastic pollution.  

What is the best garden solution for nature?

The answer is simple – a real grass lawn is best for nature. 

For those lucky enough to have a garden or access to green space, with living grass and wildflowers, they can prove a wonderful place to reconnect with nature if managed for people and wildlife. While our gardens need to work well for all – more frequently mown areas provide functional zones for children to kick a ball or people to unwind on a deckchair – that doesn’t mean they cannot also play home to wildlife – from finches feeding on seed-heads to slow worms slithering in the grass. Areas of infrequently mown turf are win-win. They require little maintenance and offer opportunities for so many species of plants and other wildlife. 

No Mow May looks to highlight the positive steps that people can take to make space for nature. At a time when people may feel disconnected or disempowered in the face of the climate and biodiversity crisis, individual actions add up to a community network of wilder lawns. Connected habitats are exactly what our wild plants, fungi and wildlife need to thrive.

How to Start a Community Meadow?

How to Start a Community Meadow?

Want to start a community meadow, but not sure where to begin? Read our guide to creating a flower-filled haven for your local community.

Peat-free horticulture for plants, people and planet
Yellow flowers of Bog Asphodel among grass and other bog plants.

Peat-free horticulture for plants, people and planet

Extraction of peat for gardening and horticulture continues to damage wildlife and our climate, despite government commitments to phase it out. Plantlife is calling on governments and industry to end the use of peat in gardening and horticulture to benefit nature and our climate. 

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Discover the gnarled woodlands on the wildest peaks in Wales, as Robbie Blackhall-Miles reveals the secrets of Eryri’s miniature but magical Juniper forests.

Different flowers provide different resources for different wildlife species. Clover on a short flowering lawn provides a lifeline for bumblebees, long grasses provide an essential resource for butterflies and moths such as the Small Skipper, and Goldfinches are attracted to Knapweed when it sets seed.  

But how do you increase the diversity of plants in your garden? Here are some tips from Plantlife’s wildflower experts to help you create a blooming bonanza!  

 

In Spring and Summer 

Long cut grass in a wheelbarrow on a garden lawn
  • Avoid using herbicides, fertilizers and moss killers  as these are detrimental to wildflower species.
  • Allow plants time to go to seed before cutting your lawn so they increase naturally.    
  • Remove grass cuttings to prevent nutrient build-up in your lawn which might discourage wildflowers to grow. 

In Autumn

Yellow Rattle growing in an urban wildflower meadow
  • Introduce Yellow Rattle – known as ‘the Meadow Maker’ – to long-grass areas as it reduces growth of competitive grasses giving wildflowers more space to grow.  Here’s our comprehensive guide to growing yellow rattle. 
  • Introduce native, meadow plug plants, preferably in the autumn. Choose suitable perennials such as Cowslips, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Betony, Oxeye Daisy, Selfheal and Knapweed. You may need to help them establish in the first couple of years, ensuring they don’t get crowded out by the grasses.  
  • Sow native flower seed in patches of prepared soil in the autumn. Remove the top few centimetres of turf from a small area, break up the soil a little with a fork and sprinkle the seed in the patch. Keep well-watered if the soil is dry until the plants are established. Read more in our guide here.

Don’t forget that humble dandelions and daisies are fantastic lawn flowers!

They are some of the first lawn flowers to appear each year and provide much needed food to early bees and other pollinators when there is little else out in flower. Sparrows also enjoy feasting on their seeds as a tasty snack. 

How to Start a Community Meadow?

How to Start a Community Meadow?

Want to start a community meadow, but not sure where to begin? Read our guide to creating a flower-filled haven for your local community.

Peat-free horticulture for plants, people and planet
Yellow flowers of Bog Asphodel among grass and other bog plants.

Peat-free horticulture for plants, people and planet

Extraction of peat for gardening and horticulture continues to damage wildlife and our climate, despite government commitments to phase it out. Plantlife is calling on governments and industry to end the use of peat in gardening and horticulture to benefit nature and our climate. 

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Discover the gnarled woodlands on the wildest peaks in Wales, as Robbie Blackhall-Miles reveals the secrets of Eryri’s miniature but magical Juniper forests.

At Plantlife, there is a buzz of activity brewing as the 1st of May approaches. No Mow May is our biggest campaign – calling on all parts of society to join in a national movement to create thriving green spaces. 

We focus the campaign on May because it’s in May that the flowering season really gets going. Leaving areas of grass unmown in May lets the flowers multiply, better supporting wildlife over the summer. We might be the ones driving No Mow May today, but the seasonal relevance of May 1st has roots much deeper than any modern campaign can claim. 

White bell like flowers - Lily of the Valley

Celebrating the Summer 

Calan Mai or Calan Haf (meaning First day of May or First day of Summer) was a special day of celebration for Welsh people. In certain places it still is. This festival has ancient origins, sharing cultural roots with May Day, Beltane and the European Walpurgis Night. Regardless of their differences, these festivals are united in a shared celebration of the returning sunshine. The arrival of the sun encourages plant growth, and therefore carries the promise of plentiful food. 

During Calan Mai, people would traditionally dance, sing, and feast to celebrate the summer after a cold and barren winter. The village green (‘Twmpath chwarae’) would be officially opened, where people would gather to dance, perform and play sports. ‘Twmpath’ refers to a mound that would be prepared on the green. This would be decorated with branches of oak trees, and a fiddler or harpist would sit upon it, playing music in the evening sun. 

The Significance of the Seasons 

Our ancestors were deeply connected to nature’s phases. So much so that important dates in the seasonal calendar were considered sacred and even magic. Many of the festivities and traditions of Calan Mai are based in spirituality and botanical folklore. 

On Ysprydnos (May eve, one of the Welsh ‘spirit nights’, when the veil between this world and the next is said to be thinner) locals would collect branches and flowers to decorate their homes, celebrating and welcoming growth and fertility. Fires would be burned to ward off harmful spirits, and young men would place bunches of rosemary tied with white ribbon on the windowsills of those they admired. 

The festival also marks a special point in the agricultural calendar. This is the time that Welsh farmers would turn their herds out to pasture. These kinds of customs remind us that, until fairly recently, a knowledge of how plants, animals, and landscapes change with the seasons was deeply engrained in cultural norms.  

Hawthorn flowers

Reconnecting with the Seasons 

Nowadays, with central heating, electricity and food readily available all year-round, we’ve become detached from the turn of the planet. We observe and experience the seasons passing, but for many, harsh winters are nothing more than an inconvenience (although this is far from true for everyone). It’s hard for us to imagine the enormous significance the start of summer had, and continues to have, on people who rely directly on the land for their survival.  

Remembering Calan Mai and engaging with movements like No Mow May allow us to reconnect with the seasons. They remind us to tune into the habits of the Earth and become familiar again with the blooms and busts of nature. It also nurtures our own physical and mental wellbeing. Although we might forget it sometimes, we are creatures who have evolved in a world that changes with the seasons. When we appreciate how reliant we are on our planet and everything it provides us it becomes clear that the start of summer really is something worth singing and dancing for. 

Wales Farming News
Black cow and white cow in Welsh Upland background trees and hills.

Wales Farming News

Agricultural grasslands dominate Wales’ rural landscape. Finding ways to restore species-rich habitats to farms is a priority for Plantlife Cymru.

Rare Fungus spotted at Kenfig National Nature Reserve
Brown topped fungus with yellow gills in a green grassy area.

Rare Fungus spotted at Kenfig National Nature Reserve

Chris Jones, the Warden of Kenfig National Nature Reserve, recently found the very rare fungus, during a routine survey.

How to Stand up for Wildlife and Protect Local Sites From Being Destroyed
Crop spraying.

How to Stand up for Wildlife and Protect Local Sites From Being Destroyed

Every day, our wild plants and fungi are put at risk from planning decisions, chemical sprays and more. Find out what you can do to help protect nature.

A Speckled Wood Butterfly rests on a leaf of a hedge, image by Pip Gray

Speckled Wood Butterfly 

The dappled pattern of the Speckled Wood is a sign that summer is on its way. With up to two generations of this sun-seeking butterfly being produced in a year, it’s crucial that its caterpillar food plants, long grasses such as False Brome Brachypodium sylvaticum, Cock’s-foot Dactylis glomerata and Yorkshire-fog Holcus lanatus are available. This is why leaving patches of long grass year around in your garden is so important! 

A Red Tailed Bumblebee dusted in the pollen of a Crocus Flower, image by Pip Gray

Red-tailed Bumblebee 

Living up to its name, this bumblebee can be seen across the UK in spring with its vividly red tail. Bumblebees like this one rely on a plentiful supply of our wonderfully wild plants such as Red Clover Trifolium pratense and Dandelions Taraxacum officinale to supply them with nectar and pollen. These are food sources for the bees and their larvae – next year’s buzzing bumblebees! 

Cinnabar Moth caterpillars munch on Common Ragwort, image by Pip Gray

Cinnabar Moth  

The life cycle of this bright and boldly patterned moth (pictured in the heading) relies entirely on one of our sunniest wildflowers – the yellow Common Ragwort Senecio jacobaea. Its tiger-striped caterpillars munch on this unpalatable plant before pupating underground over winter, ready to emerge as moths and put on another dazzling show next year. 

 

A Marmalade Hoverfly rests on a prickly wild plant stem, image by Pip Gray

Marmalade Hoverfly 

This deliciously named hoverfly is one of our easiest flies to spot, identified by its black and orange bands and mesmerising levitating flight. Despite being disguised as a wasp, this friendly pollinator relies solely on nectar from flat flower heads such as Common Ragwort Senecio jacobaea and Cow Parsley Anthriscus sylvestris. 

A Cockchafer Beetle image by Sarka Krnavkova

Cockchafer Beetle 

Commonly known as the May Bug, these chunky red/orange beetles only live for 5-6 weeks. Despite their short lives above ground, females rely on grassy areas such as lawns to lay their eggs, where the larvae develop hidden deep underground for up to 5 years. Look out for them on warm evenings, perhaps bumping into your lit window! 

How to Start a Community Meadow?

How to Start a Community Meadow?

Want to start a community meadow, but not sure where to begin? Read our guide to creating a flower-filled haven for your local community.

Peat-free horticulture for plants, people and planet
Yellow flowers of Bog Asphodel among grass and other bog plants.

Peat-free horticulture for plants, people and planet

Extraction of peat for gardening and horticulture continues to damage wildlife and our climate, despite government commitments to phase it out. Plantlife is calling on governments and industry to end the use of peat in gardening and horticulture to benefit nature and our climate. 

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Discover the gnarled woodlands on the wildest peaks in Wales, as Robbie Blackhall-Miles reveals the secrets of Eryri’s miniature but magical Juniper forests.

Snake's-head Fritillary flowers growing in a garden pot, image by Pip Gray

1. Go wild for plants

Wild plants are great for wildlife. This is because our native plants and animals have been around longer than species that have been introduced to this country. They’ve evolved together and are more likely to support and sustain each other. 

  • Wildflower blossom provides food in the form of nectar and pollen for bees and other insects. Look out for them in the native plant section of your local garden supplier – don’t forget to check that they’re grown in peat-free compost too!
  • Fruits and berries are important for feeding birds when food supplies are short later in the year – small trees and shrubs that are good for blossom and berries include Rowan, Crab Apple, Elder, Blackthorn and Hawthorn. 

Not got a lawn? Small bushes and trees, and many wildflower plants can be grown in pots!

Oxeye daisies and long grass in a garden with chairs

2. Plan your mini (or magnificent!) meadow 

Simply leaving patches of lawn to grow longer will allow flowers to bloom for bees and butterflies and provide shelter for small mammals such as wood mice, voles and shrews.  

Be part of Plantlife’s No Mow May movement and leave the lawn mower in the shed this summer – if you want to take it a step further, we recommend leaving some areas for much longer between mows. Different lengths of grass left in your garden for the whole year will welcome and provide a home for much more wildlife. Shorter grass welcomes clovers and daisies, and grass that has been left to grow all year is a paradise for butterflies and other wildlife.

A small pond within a garden

3. Make a splash – build a pond

One of the best ways to bring wildlife into the garden is to build a pond. It doesn’t have to be big – a container such as a washing bowl or old sink will do. But it needs to have at least one sloping side or ramp so that creatures can easily get in and out. 

Put your pond somewhere partially sunny and wait for it to fill with rainwater for best results. Bring it to life with native plant species such as Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris, Water Avens Geum rivale and Bogbean Menyanthes trifoliata.

In summer and during heat waves this water source will be a vital lifeline for thirsty birds, as well as a space for flies such as dragonflies and hoverflies to reproduce. 

 

How to Start a Community Meadow?

How to Start a Community Meadow?

Want to start a community meadow, but not sure where to begin? Read our guide to creating a flower-filled haven for your local community.

Peat-free horticulture for plants, people and planet
Yellow flowers of Bog Asphodel among grass and other bog plants.

Peat-free horticulture for plants, people and planet

Extraction of peat for gardening and horticulture continues to damage wildlife and our climate, despite government commitments to phase it out. Plantlife is calling on governments and industry to end the use of peat in gardening and horticulture to benefit nature and our climate. 

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Discover the gnarled woodlands on the wildest peaks in Wales, as Robbie Blackhall-Miles reveals the secrets of Eryri’s miniature but magical Juniper forests.

1. Get schools and educational hubs involved


As well as a place to grow our curiosity, our educational spaces can be home to playing fields, verges and gardens which are ready to burst with life each spring. If your school isn’t taking part already, consider having a chat with staff to see if a space can be left for nature this year. As well as being a bonus for wildlife, why not use this as a fun learning opportunity to discover how many species you can spot? 

2. Talk to your neighbours

You may not have your own lawn or green space, but your neighbour or community might! If the 23 million garden owners of the UK joined forces for nature, it could transform the fortunes for our wild plants and the much-loved species that depend on them.

Why not share our No Mow May resources with your neighbours and community? We have signs to display in gardens, notice boards and windows which are a fantastic conversation starter – it could even be the start of a No Mow May street! 

3. Connect with places of worship  


Often the cornerstone of our communities, our places of worship can be a sanctuary for people and wildlife alike. See if your local church, mosque or other place of worship has a green space they can pledge for nature this No Mow May. Churchyards for example, are often excellent places for wildflower and wildlife that enjoy the undisturbed grasslands.

4. Chat to your local councillor

Our councils manage some of our most widely-used green spaces, no matter where you live. Ask your local councillor about your councils plans to provide a home for wildflowers and wildlife in May and beyond, and share their good work on social media. 

5. Create a mini meadow in a pot

If you have outdoor space but no lawn, don’t write off No Mow May just yet! Encourage wildlife to your garden with a pot or window box – what happens if you leave one with bare soil, perhaps local wild plants seed will find their way in. There are also native seed mixes you can sprinkle into pots which pollinators like bees and butterflies will go wild for! 

 

How to Start a Community Meadow?

How to Start a Community Meadow?

Want to start a community meadow, but not sure where to begin? Read our guide to creating a flower-filled haven for your local community.

Peat-free horticulture for plants, people and planet
Yellow flowers of Bog Asphodel among grass and other bog plants.

Peat-free horticulture for plants, people and planet

Extraction of peat for gardening and horticulture continues to damage wildlife and our climate, despite government commitments to phase it out. Plantlife is calling on governments and industry to end the use of peat in gardening and horticulture to benefit nature and our climate. 

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Discover the gnarled woodlands on the wildest peaks in Wales, as Robbie Blackhall-Miles reveals the secrets of Eryri’s miniature but magical Juniper forests.

How to Start a Community Meadow?

How to Start a Community Meadow?

Want to start a community meadow, but not sure where to begin? Read our guide to creating a flower-filled haven for your local community.

Peat-free horticulture for plants, people and planet
Yellow flowers of Bog Asphodel among grass and other bog plants.

Peat-free horticulture for plants, people and planet

Extraction of peat for gardening and horticulture continues to damage wildlife and our climate, despite government commitments to phase it out. Plantlife is calling on governments and industry to end the use of peat in gardening and horticulture to benefit nature and our climate. 

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Discover the gnarled woodlands on the wildest peaks in Wales, as Robbie Blackhall-Miles reveals the secrets of Eryri’s miniature but magical Juniper forests.