No Mow May
Warwick District Council is supporting Plantlife’s annual #NoMowMay campaign 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.
No Mow May survey
In order to understand people’s current awareness of the annual scheme and to ensure that it can continue to build and be successful in future years, we held a short survey between 1 - 18 June 2023, asking residents what they thought about No Mow May and how we could improve our involvement next year.
We received 4,292 responses. We'll now be analysing these and will post the results here in the next few months.
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-deleted 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.
- They also absorb pollution and help improve air quality
- Helps the recovery of the grass sward following the harsh heatwaves and drought experienced last year 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 Monday 1 May 2023. Grass cutting will resume from Monday 5 June 2023. 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 are not reducing the number of times we cut the grass throughout the year, we are simply shifting the grass cutting cycle to avoid May which means grass cutting will continue later into the year than normal.
Where will grass cutting be suspended?
We will be suspending grass cutting on highway verges, most parks and open spaces, and our housing estates.
We will continue to cut grass in children’s play areas, cemeteries, sports pitches, and our major parks including Jephson Gardens, Pump Room Gardens, St. Nicholas Park and Abbey Fields.
Is this just a cost saving exercise?
No, there won’t be any cost savings. We are not reducing the number of times we cut the grass throughout the year, we are simply shifting the grass cutting cycle to avoid May which means grass cutting will continue later into the year than normal.
What happens to the grass cutting teams in May?
We will continue to cut grass in children’s play areas, cemeteries, sports pitches, and our major parks including Jephson Gardens, Pump Room Gardens, St. Nicholas Park and Abbey Fields so some teams will be mowing as normal.
All other grass cutting teams will be used to support and enhance other areas of the grounds maintenance contract.
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 webpage.
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 webpage.
Will grass cuttings be taken away once mowing resumes in June?
No, leaving the grass cuttings in situ is better for the soil. Not only will the cuttings release nutrients into the soil as they rot down, but they will also help to protect the soil against erosion from intense rainfall, wind and heavy footfall, as well as locking in moisture to help during hot and dry periods.
The grass cutting contractor is required to sweep 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 contractor will be vigilant for any litter or wildlife in the long grass and remove this safely before they start mowing.
If you know of any specific areas or issues that the contractor needs to be made aware of, 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.
How can I let others know that I'm supporting No Mow May?
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 develop wildflower areas on highway verges in your local area. An application needs to be submitted to Warwickshire County Council.