The easiest wildlife gardening job in May? Give your mower a break

Do your bit for the bees by letting your lawn grow during No Mow May, and take part in Plantlife’s  Every Flower Counts survey.

Many of us have taken a renewed interest in our gardens during the recent lockdowns, and wildlife-friendly planting to support bees and other pollinators is increasingly popular. What is perhaps less well known is that you can attract up to ten times as many pollinators to your garden just by making a few simple changes to how you mow your lawn. 

Research by Plantlife, drawing on citizen science data from last year’s No Mow May campaign, has shown that the greatest production of nectar comes from garden lawns mown only once every four weeks. These ‘superlawns’ that only receive a monthly mow can support up to 4,000 bees a day, compared to the 400 bees a day that most lawns support. The four week interval suits short and nectar-rich plant species such as daisies and white clover, giving them a chance to flower in abundance.

The study found that patches of lawn left unmown for longer periods are also valuable, as they allow a greater diversity of flowering plants to grow and extend the season during which nectar is available. Taller species such as field scabious, knapweed and oxeye daisy can attract different pollinators and bloom well into late summer.

To make the most of your lawn, Plantlife prescribes a ‘mohican’ approach to mowing: keeping most of the area short with a four-weekly trim, while setting an area aside to really let the grass – and wildflowers – grow. Whatever the size of your garden, this will help to keep a wide variety of bees and bugs happy all through the growing season.

So why not make May the month that you start giving your mower a little more quality shed time – and give yourself more time to put your feet up and watch the flowers grow. 

As part of No Mow May, from 23rd-31st May you can take part in Plantlife’s Every Flower Counts survey. It’s quick and easy, and when you enter your results you will receive your own Personal Nectar Score telling you how many bees your lawn supports. 

Let us know how you get on over on the YACWAG Facebook page – we’d love to know who will set the nectar record for our local area!

For more top tips on gardening for wildlife, check out the YACWAG gardening page and the Wild About Gardens resources from RHS and The Wildlife Trusts.

You can support our work and take action for wildlife by joining YACWAG from as little as £4 per year.