Forum home Wildlife gardening

The environmental sin of a beautiful lawn

In 15yr of gardening I've always tried to keep a beautiful well kept lawn.
But from an environmental point of view this makes me feel guilty.

Weeds, with their flowers, as aesthetically unpleasant as they are, make life possible for the insects and their mates. Without insects everything is less healthy. We wouldn't even be able to feed ourselves (mind you, neither other species...).

Every year I try to leave the lawn on its own. Better for environment. But every year I fail. Just too ugly. :(:'(

Where do you stand on this front?
Would a robot mower be any difference? (I don't think so, after all it still cuts the weeds and their flowers, which is what the insects need for survival...)
«134567

Posts

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 24,889
    I don't find a monoculture lawn at all admirable or attractive and have never desired one.

    Now he's retired OH has taken on grass cutting duties and it's still a struggle getting the perisher to keep the blades high and leave some areas long.  Our front grass is full of naturalised cyclamen and daisies and other good "weeds".   He's finally stopped scalping them all.

    Last year we left a large central section of our plot unmowed and it grew a load of wildflowers and weeds and we had our best year yet for swallows and house-martins and other birds.  It wasn't always pretty tho so this year we're managing it better, in blocks with mown paths thru it.  I shall gradually be sowing and planting meadow flowers, some to keep at 4" high and some not to be cut until seed set.

    It'll take time to get it right but won't involve chemicals, will reduce our petrol consumption for strimmers and mowers and be much better for wildlife of all shapes and sizes. 
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 8,703
    edited 4 May
    @alberto.defanis  If you get a chance, go and visit Great Dixter and see how they have transformed lawns into wild meadows. It's a thing of great beauty.

    If you adore a neat lawn,  I wouldn't beat yourself up too much. If you want to make a contribution ther are lots of other ways - feeding birds, planting for pollinators, planting flowering/berry trees, putting in a pond, putting up bat or swift boxes, not using any fugicide or insect sprays....   I think the best way is not to find what makes you feel bad, but finding helpful ways are delightful to you.
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 5,963
    There were some great opinions on lawn shaming on GQT a few weeks ago with the consensus being to create what you love in your garden and if you like neat grass than try and keep it organic while enhancing other areas for wildlife. As much as I love lawn weeds I have to admit that a neat lawn really does help to enhance the look of other parts of the garden and it can be a lot more practical to keep it neat for most of the year. Wildflower lawns are not easy to establish and I think the usual result of straggly grass and very few flowers for a few years actually puts people off.
    I only mow when I have to and I go around the patches of clover. With kids and a dog now though there's no point in leaving any of it long as it just gets flattened and turns to thatch which I have to rake out and cut by hand.
    Anything is better than plastic though.
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 5,009
    Live and let live.  If somebody wants a perfectly manicured lawn that's their business and their right.  Some of the best manicured lawns I've seen have been surrounded by incredibly diverse borders providing a fabulous array of opportunities for all manner of bugs and beasties.
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 3,540
    It is possible to have a lawn which still reads as a lawn (rather than a wildflower meadow) but has a lot of shorter wildflowers (clover, daisy, selfheal, yarrow). Emorsgate gives this advice for their 'Flowering Lawn Mixture':

    Mow regularly as a lawn but not too short (25-40mm). To permit flowering, mowing can be relaxed from late June. Cut again when the sward gets untidy (after 4-8 weeks). Mowing may be suspended earlier in the year to allow cowslips to flower. Heavy quantities of cuttings should be collected and  removed from site.

    You could do that and keep the edges of the lawn well mown, to maintain the crispness of the lawn's shape.
  • B3B3 Posts: 16,961
    I think short wildflowers is a good compromise. I wouldn't want a 'perfect' lawn myself, but don't have any problem with other gardeners who like them.
    I even like some of the weeds that grow between my paving slabs.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 24,889
    I think it's perfectly possible to have a green space that offsets the borders and other plants in a garden without being obsessive about it being pure grass or mowing it really short.   

    I'm planning to try the short wildflower meadow suggested on Beechgrove last week as well as leave some areas much longer for the taller wildflowers.
     
    I think gardens can be places of safety and sources of food for wildlife so a serious lawn can be offset by planting nectar and pollen rich plants, installing bird feeders, nest boxes, insect hotels, wood piles in quiet corners, passages for hedgehogs to pass between gardens, a pond and so on.

    As for the rest, I have reduced my personal water use by having short showers rather than log soaks, only setting off the machine when it is full, using a dishwasher rather than hand washing dishes, installing seep hoses for crops that need watering rather than using a sprinkler and installing water butts.   Right plant right place for the rest of the garden so watering at planting time and till established but then they're on their own.



    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 8,703
    edited 4 May
    Like the phrase "a serious lawn". :)
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 3,624
    I like my lawn areas kept short but I have no aspirations to perfection. I use an organic feed and if there's a weed that I don't want there I dig it out. I'm happy to keep the speedwells, violets and clover but I don't really want big rosetty things. The grass areas are not a large percentage of my garden and the borders are full of a jumble of different plants many of which seem to be popular with insects of various kinds (including something that likes to bite me). There's plenty of longer grass around here, including never-cut gardens , gardens that aren't cut very often (although I suspect not with any deliberate intention to be good for wildlife), road verges, field edges and hedgerows and woodland edges, so I don't feel guilty about having what I like in my garden.
Sign In or Register to comment.