Establish a flower
-rich lawn

Why establish a flower-rich lawn?


Many bumblebees and solitary bees are in decline, meaning our crops are facing a pollination shortage. Grassy and flower covered lawns, with the right management, are important habitats for these pollinators and lots of other wildlife.

In particular, these areas serve as important nesting habitats:
  • Long grassy lawns are great for bumblebees that build their nests in longer grass, such as the common carder, brown-banded carder, moss carder and red-shanked carder bees.
  • Undisturbed areas are vital as many bumblebee species, including the early bumblebee, inhabit abandoned mammal nests.
  • Shorter grass and sparse lawns are often used by tawny mining bees to create underground nests.
However, the way in which most lawns are currently managed, with short, uniform grass that is regularly cut, supports a relatively low number of plant and pollinator species.

The 24 million UK gardens cover an estimated 500,000 hectares.

What can you do to help?


These simple measures can help transform habitats:
  • Stop fertiliser use or try using phosphorus-free fertiliser to prevent run-off.

  • Leave some wild species of flower to flourish. For example, dandelions, daisies, buttercups, clover and speedwell are a great source of pollen and nectar for pollinators.

  • Reduce the amount you mow to allow existing plants to flower and set seed. The best thing about this is that you can feel positive about helping wildlife whilst also saving yourself time!

  • Introduce new wildflowers into your lawn and leave areas uncut for periods of the year so that they can flower.

Worried about what your neighbours may think?

There are a number of things you can do to show you aren’t neglecting your garden, but actually helping pollinators. Simply put up a sign in your garden, or you can even mow a neat border and pathways around sections of longer grass to show that it’s intentional. Finally, you can tell your neighbours about Naturehood, encourage them to have a go themselves, and work with others in your community to create a thriving Naturehood for insects and other animals!

Make your garden a haven for wildlife

How do I maintain a flower-rich garden?


There’s a number of options you can get involved with, depending on the size of your Naturespace and the amount of time you have. Remember to let us know what you’ve done by Joining Naturehood, so we can see how these amazing actions are helping local wildlife.

Option A: Reduce mowing frequency

The simplest and easiest way to increase the value of your lawn is to stop any fertiliser use and let the lawn grow naturally for longer periods.

Top tip: experiment with different frequencies of mowing during the summer, (fortnightly, monthly or every six weeks) to see which flowers appear at different intervals and which pollinators these plants attract.

Option B: Plant wildflower plug plants

These little plants are ready to go straight into the garden, ideally in autumn. Cut the grass nice and short, then use a trowel to make a hole into which you can insert the plug plant. Water the plants regularly, especially during prolonged dry periods.

Top tip: if you arrange the plug plants in groups or swathes across the lawn, this will give the most natural look. During establishment of the flowers, mow with the blades on the highest setting (cut height set at approximately 5 cm) to help prevent the grass swamping out the flowers.

Option C: Lay wildflower turf

If you have bare soil, you can purchase wildflower-rich lawn turf. This is supplied in rolls and can be laid like a normal lawn. Rolls tend to contain a 50:50 grass/wildflower mix and will include species such as yellow rattle, bird’s-foot trefoil, yarrow, bugle and daisy. The cost of this is higher than for plug plants or seed, but the establishment is very quick and effective.

Top tip: the main cut of the year should be in summer, between late June and the end of August. Additional cuts in spring and autumn can help if the grass is very lush. Use a hand or mechanical scythe to cleanly cut the long grass and flowers. Raking in the spring in subsequent years can reduce weeds and encourage seeds to germinate.

Useful Plants

Bird’s-foot trefoil
Bugle
Cowslip
Daisy

Devil’s-bit scabious

Field scabious

Kidney vetch

Lady’s bedstraw

Ox-eye daisy

Ragged robin

Red clover

Red campion

Sorrel

Tufted vetch

White clover

Yellow rattle

prefer to create a patch of wildflowers, or have a smaller NatureSpace? Take a look at this Naturespace action

Take a look at some of these excellent guides for additional hints and tips on the best management of your Naturespace.

Unless otherwise credited, all illustrations © Chris Shields, and all wildlife photographs © Steven Falk
Connect with Naturehood: