Grow a lawn for wildlife

A beautifully manicured lawn is something many people are very proud of, but you can add some extra value to your lawn by leaving bits undisturbed and wild, making it more beneficial to pollinators and other wildlife such as worms, beetles and birds, such as starlings, that feed on the invertebrates hidden below.
RS2845_Birdsfoot Trefoil RonWards - Jon Oakley

Tops tips for creating a wildlife lawn:

  1. Less mowing

By leaving parts of your lawn unmown you can create a busy wildlife habitat. Plants such as clover, daisies and buttercups will have the chance to grow and bloom, and their pollen will attract pollinating bees and butterflies. Longer grasses can also provide shelter and places to forage for animals such as frogs and hedgehogs.

  1. Is it a weed?

Some wildflowers such as bird's-foot trefoil, lesser celandine and selfheal are traditionally thought of as weeds, but they are very beneficial for pollinators as well as being the foodplants for caterpillars of butterflies species such as common blues and green hairstreaks.

  1. Avoid weed killers and pesticides

Weed killers remove plants that could attract bees and other pollinating insects. Where possible remove weeds like thistles, nettles and dock by the root.

Rather than pesticides, use alternative treatments to control problematic species. For example, spray water with washing-up liquid on plants with aphids and use serrated copper tape around plants to discourage slugs and snails.

  1. Add variety to your grass

Most gardens only have a few grass species, but grasses are a diverse group and diversity can add a variety of structure and colour to your garden. If they are left unmown, they will produce flowers and seeds which are important for many animals.

  1. Turn your lawn into a wildflower meadow

To get a more diverse range of flowers you could add some plants yourself. Many places sell wildflower mixes, but try to stick to native seeds such as: common knapweed, red clover, kidney vetch, yarrow, devil's bit scabious, ox-eye daisy, field scabious, teasel, cowslip, selfheal, betony and meadow buttercup.

  1. Don't use fertiliser

Although well fertilised soils support thick grass growth, this is to the detriment of wildflowers, so to increase diversity in your lawn, don't add fertiliser, manure or compost.

  1. When to cut a wildflower lawn

In the first year of establishing a mini meadow cut it to approximately 7cm every 6-8 weeks to keep vigorous species under control and encourage good root development. In future years, mow until early April but then leave it until late in the flowering season to give the wildflowers the chance to set seed. After mowing leave the clippings for a few days to let any seeds fall.  

Nature Notes: After the crisis, what happens next?

Things have changed rapidly and dramatically and as we start to consider life after lockdown, we have a unique opportunity to reimagine society.

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust has a chance to influence this, and hope we can create a new normal, something better than the old normal where our seas and rivers are polluted, where our air is dangerous to breathe and where wildlife is just hanging on in tiny fragments of wild space.  

Lockdown has forced a pause on the pace of so-called normal life and shown us a glimpse of what a better future could be. The usually murky and brown water of the Solent is clearer than any of us have ever seen, in the New Forest, ground-nesting birds have been seen building nests along empty tracks, and grey seals have been spotted on deserted beaches.      

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust has launched a new survey to find out what lifestyle changes local people would choose to keep once restrictions are lifted and need your thoughts on what a different world should look like.

https://www.hiwwt.org.uk/what-happens-next

Nature at home: Get ready for 30 Days Wild 2020

30 Days Wild starts on Monday; the Wildlife Trusts annual nature challenge to do one wild thing a day throughout the whole month. Every Random Act of Wildness counts, from watching a bee from your window or feeding the birds, to giving up single-use plastics for a month or digging a pond in your garden. Here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • Inhale a wild scent - Beautiful scents aren’t just for the bees: take a few seconds to inhale the perfume of a wildflower or plant.
  • Go stargazing – Look at the stars on a clear evening, how many different constellations can you see?
  • Do a litter pick - Seeing a piece of litter on the floor of a park when there is a bin 20 yards away is upsetting, be a champion for nature and pick it up.
  • Tune in by switching off - Rewild your family by banning all electronic items from being switched on for a day and tune in to nature instead.
  • Unleash your inner artist - Have a go at sketching a plant, seed or feather up close and admire the exquisite details, shapes and textures.
  • Keep a wild photo diary – Take a photo every day for a month, pick your favourite spot and watch how much changes in one month.