On Ours to Protect this week we asked all Ocean FM listeners to go for a Slow Mow Summer – cutting grasses and lawns every less often – maybe every 4 or 6 weeks.
Did you know…
- For millennia, flower-rich ‘semi-natural’ grasslands have provided ample food and shelter for wildlife across Ireland. However, these habitats are rapidly disappearing from our countryside, due to agricultural intensification, monoculture crops of ryegrass and hay meadows being drained and reseeded for higher productivity. More intensively managed landscapes leave little room for biodiversity
- Even tiny biodiversity meadows or margins are valuable for pollinators – roadside verges, lawns, schools, parks, field margins, farm lanes can all make a difference
- You might be surprised to hear that sowing wildflower seed mixes can be detrimental to local biodiversity. Many wildflower seed mixes contain non-native species, and can inadvertently introduce invasive species
- Bidens and Bacopa are great bedding plants for small containers and hanging baskets; and herbs such as Thyme and Rosemary provide food for you as well as for pollinators. Make sure you keep these plants to your garden and don’t plant them in the wider landscape
What are the benefits of a Slow Mow Summer?
- Grasses, and other plants in gardens, farms, and wetlands are essential to fighting climate change because they absorb atmospheric CO2
- Taller grasses have more biomass so they store more carbon
- Leaving grasses to grow also allows the soil below to absorb larger amounts of carbon
- By not cutting lawns in May, a haven is created for pollinators as wildflowers and other plants grow, providing them with food and habitat. This can help to boost their populations and ensure the long-term survival of these crucial species
- Allowing the grass to grow also gives flowering plants a chance to blossom, offering up pollen and nectar for wild bees and other pollinating insects
What can I do for pollinators?
- By reducing mowing – even to once a month – you will help insects to slowly return, one pocket at a time
- Plant bulbs such as Snowdrop, Crocus, and Grape Hyacinth in the autumn to provide early food for emerging pollinators the following spring
- Plant five fruit trees to create a mini orchard.
- Leave your dandelions to bloom in Spring time
- If you are worried that a flower-filled grassy meadow will look messy, mowing a path through the tall flower-filled sward can be a gorgeous addition, letting people know that this natural look is by design rather than laziness.
- You can collect seeds from local wildflowers and plant these in your garden instead of buying seed mixes
Pollinator Friendly Mowing Tips
10 Ways to Help Pollinators: Printable Bookmark
How to Guide for Communities
How to Transform Grassy Areas into Meadow
How to Create Nesting Habitat for Pollinators