Come and be part of a global voice for wild plants and fungi
This autumn, help us find the Britain’s most colourful and important fungi – waxcaps.
Plantlife’s Big Give Christmas Challenge 28 Nov- 5 Dec, make a positive impact in protecting remarkable lichens.
Go the extra mile and run wild for Plantlife
Become a Plantlife member today and together we will rebuild a world rich in plants and fungi
Read in: EnglishCymraeg
No Mow May
In May 2023 thousands of you liberated your lawn for nature during No Mow May, leaving the wildflowers to grow and providing a space for nature, from inner cities to remote rolling hills.
But what does a No Mow May lawn look like at the end of the month? Take a look at the pictures this year’s participants sent in!
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.
A No Mow May lawn can be beautiful as well as a refuge for wildlife. This sunny sea of buttercups from Samantha Barnes shows just how striking our wild plants are.
A short flowering lawn is a hardy and practical space, even when you need to nip to the shed for your bike! Image by Judy Manson
You can let wildflower grow tall even in a small patch of lawn in your garden, image by Jane Wood
Having a No Mow lawn doesn’t mean no fun! A flowering lawn provides the perfect spot for the next generation of nature lovers to discover the joy of the great outdoors. Image by Tina Radford
Taking part in No Mow May is a wonderful addition to any nature-friendly gardeners calendar. Long grass surrounding a pond can help provide space for amphibians. Image by Zoe Costello
This creative window display at a school is an inspiring reminder that caring for our wild plants is important to all generations. Image by Laura Churchill
A green oasis in a city centre. Allowing a diversity of plants to grow has the potential to improve the carbon capture potential of soil beneath our lawns by as much as 10%. Image by Kenneila Quashie
No Mow May participants reported sightings of many beneficial pollinators in their gardens, from bees to dragonflies. Image by Fiona Hobbs
Did your local council embrace No Mow May? 30+ councils let us know that they were allowing plants like Cuckooflower, a food plant of the Orange Tip Butterfly, to bloom. Image by Michael MacCuish
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.
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.
It’s not too late to let us know you joined the No Mow May. By telling us if you took part in 2023, it will give us a better picture of how many gardens and green spaces were part of No Mow May this year.
For getting up close to our tiniest wild plants and fungi, you'll need a hand lens. Learn how to use one and get top tips on buying your own.
Discover how you can identify the mosses where you live, and read about Lizzie's challenge to learn 10 mosses!
Grasslands like meadows and parks are not just home to wildflowers, they are also an important habitat for waxcap fungi.
You made it to the end of No Mow May! On behalf of your wildflowers and pollinators, thank you for breaking with convention and for re-imagining your lawns and your local green spaces.
You can see the difference you’ve made, and we hope you’ve been pleasantly surprised by the result. By not mowing through May you have rekindled your wildflowers and thrown a much-needed lifeline to your pollinators.
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!
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.
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.
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 much. You will be providing vital protection for toads and voles while seedheads will act as natural bird feeders for visiting finches.
Leaving borders to grow supports a wealth of wildflower and wildlife
By the end of No Mow May, your garden lawn may also look like this!
Creating a patchwork of lawn lengths in your garden can support a range of wildflowers
Some of the tools Mark uses in June to manage his lawn
Some wildlife may have taken refuge in your liberated lawn. Here are some quick tips for keeping wildlife safe while you mow:
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.
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.
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.
By letting us know if you or your community space is taking part, you’ll be added to our map showcasing the collective power that this campaign has.Now sit back and watch the wildflowers grow…
Our Global Advocacy Coordinator, Claire Rumsey, will be at COP28 to speak up for the vital role of wild plants and fungi in the fight against climate change.
Three Hagges Woodmeadow Site Manager Kara shares what volunteers do, from coppicing to nature surveys, and how you can get involved.
Discover the activities and work that our volunteers in the Cairngorms do with Sam Jones of the Rare Plants and Wild Connections Project.
We can’t wait to see your blooming wonderful communities this No Mow May!
Artificial lawns are becoming an increasingly common sight as we walk through our local neighbourhoods.
But what is the impact on our environment and our wildlife with this new plastic grass carpeting our communities?
Tragically around 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 over 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
It’s estimated that there are 23 million gardens in the UK – that’s a lot of land with which we can be gardening for wildlife!
A rainbow of wildflower in your lawn doesn’t just bring garden owners joy, but is also the sign of a healthy and thriving garden.
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!
Calan Mai, the Welsh celebration of summer on May 1st, revives the importance of seasonal living and reminds us that our lives have always been connected with the yearly cycles of plant abundance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Agricultural grasslands dominate Wales’ rural landscape. Finding ways to restore species-rich habitats to farms is a priority for Plantlife Cymru.
Chris Jones, the Warden of Kenfig National Nature Reserve, recently found the very rare fungus, during a routine survey.
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.
It’s not just our wonderful wildflowers which benefit from not mowing our lawns this May.
Pollinators and other wildlife bring our gardens to life with buzzing and fluttering along our lawns, borders and hedges.
Here are just a handful of the species which you can spot in your garden this May, and the wildflowers which keep them thriving in our neighbourhoods.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
It’s estimated that there are 23 million gardens in the UK – that’s a lot of land with which we can be gardening for wildlife!
Bees, birds and butterflies are not only beautiful in their own right, but are useful for the gardener, from pest control to pollination. Bees help pollinate flowers and food. Frogs eat slugs. Birds and ladybirds help keep aphids at bay.
If you want to create a home for wildlife in your garden, here’s a couple of nature-friendly gardening jobs to inspire you. If you create the right space, nature will come.
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.
Not got a lawn? Small bushes and trees, and many wildflower plants can be grown in pots!
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.
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.
If you want to see a kaleidoscope of colour and life across the country this summer, then make sure you join Plantlife’s No Mow May movement!
As well as bringing back the bloom to our lawns, there are many ways you can get involved, even if you don’t have a garden.
Here are 5 ways you can spread the No Mow May love to your community and beyond, to make this year more vibrant than ever!
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?
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!
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.
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.
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!
We will keep you updated by email about our work, news, campaigning, appeals and ways to get involved. We will never share your details and you can opt out at any time. Read our Privacy Notice.