Warwick District Council is supporting Plantlife’s annual #NoMowMay campaign again by suspending grass cutting in parts of the district throughout the month of May and letting grass and wild plants grow naturally. This will provide a much-needed boost for wild plants, insects and other wildlife throughout summer as well as helping to tackle pollution and lock away atmospheric carbon below ground.

Join the No Mow May movement.

Download our No Mow May poster.

What we learnt from No Mow May 2023

We asked you what you thought about our participation in No Mow May in 2023 to help make improvements for future involvement in the campaign. We held a short online survey between 1 – 18 June 2023 and received 4,292 responses - here's a summary of the results.  

We have taken on board your thoughts and made some changes to the way we take part in No Mow May 2024. Please read on to see how we’ve addressed the issues we experienced last year and the changes we’ve made in line with your comments.

No Mow May feedback form

You can use this form to give us compliments, complaints or feedback, report safety concerns and send us photos of the wildflowers and pollinators that you spot when out and about.

No Mow May feedback form

Why support No Mow May?

Nature is essential to our lives – from the food on our plates to the clothes we wear, from medicines to mental health benefits. However, the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. We need to restore nature to support biodiversity, stabilise our changing climate and protect our way of life. 

Why does this happen in May?

May is a key month for plants, insects and other wildlife. Warmer soils encourage grass and other plants to start shooting up. Letting wildflowers and weeds bloom will provide an important food source for pollinating insects needing nourishment in the early part of the season to expand their populations. Dandelions are a particular superfood for bees and butterflies! 

What are the benefits of No Mow May?

There are lots of benefits to No Mow May including the following:

  • Allowing plants to flower provides vital nectar (food) sources for insects and increases the pollination of plants
  • The potential to provide seeds for birds
  • Provides a variety of habitats and wildlife corridors
  • Supports and enhances biodiversity
  • Helps alleviate flooding – longer, thicker grass slows the flow of water and helps to store water during heavy downpours
  • Longer, thicker grass also helps to protect against soil erosion caused by intense rainfall, wind, heavy footfall, etc.
  • Grass and other plants help to cool temperatures during periods of hot weather through the process of evapotranspiration.
  • Grass and other plants capture carbon emissions from the atmosphere and lock up carbon in the soil helping to combat climate change.
  • They also absorb pollution and help improve air quality.
  • Helps the recovery of the grass sward following the harsh heatwaves and droughts experienced in recent years by allowing the grass to reseed itself and make the sward thicker.

How long will grass cutting be suspended?

To support No Mow May, we will suspend grass cutting in parts of the district from Wednesday 1 May 2024. Grass cutting will resume from Monday 3 June 2024. Please bear in mind that we operate a 3 weekly grass cutting cycle so it will take a few weeks to complete all mowing across the district following the No Mow May suspension.

We don't intend to reduce the number of times we cut the grass throughout the year, we are simply shifting the grass cutting cycle to avoid May. However, with our changing climate we need to take a flexible approach as weather conditions don't always allow us to cut the grass as planned.  

Why did it take so long to catch up on grass cutting in 2023?

The weather throughout May 2023, created ideal conditions for grass to flourish and we saw higher growth than normal. Unfortunately, the combination of this, along with the type of machinery we normally use meant it became a real struggle to cut the long, dense grass. This resulted in us having to bring in more specialist machinery part way through June which then helped us to get back on track with our grass cutting schedule.

To avoid this same issue in 2024, we will have specialist equipment in place from the start of June that can deal with longer, thicker grass, so we shouldn’t see a delay in returning to our normal grass cutting cycle. 

Where will grass cutting be suspended?

We have listened to your views on No Mow May locations and made some changes for 2024. 

We will suspend grass cutting in most of our parks and open spaces and all highway verges (where safe to do so). However, we will continue to mow a strip of grass around the perimeter of highway verges for road safety purposes.

We will continue to cut grass in the following locations (they will not be part of No Mow May):

  • Council housing estates
  • children’s play areas where there is play equipment/apparatus
  • cemeteries
  • sports pitches (both formal and informal kick-about areas where there are goalposts marked out)
  • major parks including Jephson Gardens, Pump Room Gardens, St. Nicholas Park and Abbey Fields apart from some discreet areas which will be allowed to grow wild throughout May.

What about visibility and safety issues on highway verges? 

Highway verges are a valuable resource for wildlife and biodiversity. In fact, over 700 species of wildflowers grow on verges in the UK, that’s nearly 45% of our total flora!

Highway verges play an important role in No Mow May, but this needs to be balanced with roadside safety. We will suspend grass cutting on all highway verges throughout May but we will continue to mow a strip of grass (approximately 1 metre wide) around their perimeter to ensure visibility and safety for vehicles, pedestrians and animals/wildlife. For smaller verges this may mean cutting the entire area of grass.

If you have any safety concerns about highway verges during No Mow May please contact us straight away. 

Is this just a cost saving exercise?

This campaign is definitely not about saving money, the contractor is still cutting grass across the district as well as carrying out other jobs. This just means cutting schedules are changed during NMM.

Last year there was also an extra cost, due to several of issues that occurred. This year this cost has significantly been reduced, but to keep the cutting on track there is an additional cost of around £6,000.  This campaign is about the Council leading the way and doing "our bit" to help local biodiversity. 

Are you cutting the same number of times as previous years?

With our changing climate we are taking a flexible approach, as weather conditions (i.e. excessive rain and draught), don’t always mean we can't always cut the grass as planned, which can impact number of times we have in the past. Is this under constant review as how we can best meet this challenge.

What happens to the grass cutting teams in May?

We will continue to cut grass in housing estates, children’s play areas, cemeteries, sports pitches, and our major parks including Jephson Gardens, Pump Room Gardens, St. Nicholas Park and Abbey Fields so teams will be mowing as normal.

Why not let the grass grow wild all year round?

There is a need to balance safety, recreation and other uses of space with grass cutting regimes. For example, it’s important to maintain highway verges at a certain height for road safety purposes.  

However, we have introduced meadows into some of our parks. Meadows are flower-rich grasslands which are left to grow long. They’re great for insects such as bees and butterflies and add lots of colour to our parks throughout the seasons. They require less intensive management compared to normal grass – they are cut on a yearly cycle rather than 10 times a year for normal grass.

In addition, the Council is reviewing grass cutting regimes across the district to further improve biodiversity. For more information on the Council’s work to improve biodiversity in the district please visit our biodiversity webpages.

Is it not counterproductive to allow these small ecosystems to develop and then destroy them in June when mowing resumes?

The main purpose of No Mow May is to give plants the chance to flower to provide vital nectar and pollen sources for insects at a key time of year. It also allows some plants to set seed thereby improving the grass sward and future species diversity of the area. There are many other benefits to No Mow May as described above.

Although No Mow May only provides a brief respite, it is better than continuing to mow the grass throughout this time. The UK’s insect population has suffered drastic declines in recent decades with far reaching consequences for both wildlife and people. Every action taken, no matter how big or small, can help to protect and restore our insect populations.

The Council is reviewing grass cutting regimes across the district to further improve biodiversity. For more information on the Council’s work to improve biodiversity in the district please visit our biodiversity webpages.

What’s going to be done about the grass that hasn’t been cut yet?

Our contractors were working hard to get around the District and cut the grass before No Mow May started, but with the extremely wet weather we’ve experienced so far this year, there are some areas that have been just too wet to mow.

The areas that we’re continuing to cut during May will be cut as soon as ground conditions allow, such as Abbey Fields. Other areas that we weren’t able to cut will be prioritised when mowing resumes on Monday 3 June 2024.

We will have specialist equipment in place from the start of June that can deal with longer, thicker grass, so we shouldn’t see a delay in returning to our normal grass cutting cycle. 

Will grass cuttings be taken away once mowing resumes in June?  

No, we’re not able to remove the grass cuttings due to the type of mowing equipment we currently use. Our current practice in most areas of the district is to leave grass cuttings in situ, allowing them to rot down and release nutrients back into the soil. Unfortunately, these nutrients aren’t ideal for wildflowers, but they do help grass to thrive which has a number of benefits including flood alleviation, protection against soil erosion, natural cooling during periods of hot weather, carbon absorption, and provision of habitats and wildlife corridors.

We are reviewing our grass cutting regimes across the district and looking at ways to further improve biodiversity which may mean changes to current practices in the future. For more information on the Council’s work to improve biodiversity in the district please visit our biodiversity webpages.

The grass cutting contractor is required to blow away any cuttings that settle on roads and/or footpaths whilst they are cutting the grass.

How will the grass cutting teams deal with any litter or wildlife in the long grass once mowing resumes in June?  

The teams will be vigilant for any litter or wildlife in the long grass and attempt to remove this safely before they start mowing.

However, we’d really appreciate your help with this by ensuring that litter and dog mess are disposed of responsibly. This will make it quicker to complete mowing once it resumes in June.

If you know of any specific areas or issues that the contractor needs to be made aware of, please contact us straight away.

Who should I contact if I have concerns about long grass in particular locations?

If you have concerns about long grass in particular locations of the district please contact us straight away. 

How do I get involved in No Mow May?

Taking part in No Mow May is simple, no matter the size of your garden. Just leave your lawn to grow wild throughout May to give short and long grass plants a chance to flower and provide an extended source of nectar for insects.

Even if you can only leave a small section of your garden to grow wild, it all helps.

Download our No Mow May poster.

Let us know what wildflowers you spot whilst out and about in the district, particularly if you find any rare ones! Share your photos with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or via our feedback form.  

How can I let others know that I'm supporting No Mow May? 

Download our No Mow May poster. for use at home and in the community to help tell others about No Mow May and show that you're supporting the campaign. Plantlife also have free downloadable posters.

How can I continue to help nature after No Mow May?

After May, Plantlife recommends a layered approach in your garden, leaving some areas of long grass and cutting other areas shorter. This will help to boost floral diversity and nectar and pollen production through the year.

There are lots of other things you can do to support nature in your garden, including:

  • Planting flowers that are rich in nectar to help insects find the food they need.
  • Creating homes for insects and other wildlife such as bird boxes, bat boxes, hedgehog houses, solitary bee houses, etc.
  • Providing a source of water for wildlife, particularly on hot days, such as a bird bath, pond or even a bowl of water. Include some gravel or other material in the water for insects to safely land and perch on so they don’t fall in.
  • Creating corridors for wildlife to move between gardens and surrounding land e.g. hedgerows instead of fences, hedgehog doorways along the bottom of fence panels, etc.
  • Cut out the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides.
  • Go peat free with your compost and help to protect our nature rich peatlands
  • Use rainwater for watering rather than tap water. Not only do plants prefer rainwater, you’ll also be helping to reduce pressure on our reservoirs and lower your carbon footprint in the process. Get reduced price water butts from Severn Trent Water.

Have you considered adopting a grass verge to help nature?

Highway verges are a valuable resource for wildlife and biodiversity. Ask your parish or town council to support the development of wildflower areas on highway verges in your local area. An application needs to be submitted to Warwickshire County Council.

Bee Friendly Warwick, a local community organisation, is also happy to provide support and guidance to individuals or groups interested in adopting a verge. They have recently adopted a verge in Warwick and are currently supporting a number of groups to do the same in other areas of the district. Please contact beefriendlywarwick@gmail.com for further advice.