No Mow May


With winter behind us, many will be tempted to mow, strim, cut back and tidy their gardens. But Wanstead resident Karen Myers explains why you should resist and join in with No Mow May 

A recent survey by the charity Buglife found the UK’s flying insect population has declined by as much as 60% in the last 20 years, and scientists have confirmed land-dwelling insect populations continue to collapse by around 9% every decade. This freefall in the mainstay of our ecosystem is due to a variety of reasons, including climate change, intensive farming methods, pesticide use in parks, on kerbsides and in private gardens, habitat loss and a new trend to carpet gardens in plastic grass.

So, what can we do to reverse this worrying decline and, in some cases, the complete extinction of our beautiful buzzing friends? The answer is, plenty! If you have some outside space, a balcony or even a window ledge for flowers, you can make a real difference. Studies tell us that short, clipped and mown monoculture lawns, which have been popular for so long, are actually a barren wasteland for insects. By allowing some areas of your grass to grow longer, you will be providing shelter and important early food sources for a variety of pollinators. Perhaps also consider making part of your lawn into an area for wild flowers. This will reward you with a stunning show of colour, as well as attracting a wide range of insects. It is about this time that bees and other pollinators emerge from a long winter of hibernation, and they are absolutely starving – areas of grass left to grow give opportunities for daisies, clover and dandelions, which are not only beautiful but also provide sustenance for insects. 

Have you noticed, in a tucked away area on the eastbound platform at Snaresbrook Station, a pile of logs for a beetle shelter? Amongst many other benefits for nature, this small act of human kindness has encouraged a pair of beautiful Chaffinches to regularly visit the platform. Replicated across Wanstead gardens, this simple deed could provide the easy win of a plentiful food source for birds. 

Hedgehogs occasionally slumber through summer days in long grass, so you could also be providing a safe haven for some of Wanstead’s few precious colonies of hogs. Do always take care to check first when strimming or mowing as hedgehogs do not run away when they sense danger, they just curl up. 

If you do decide to help the bees, butterflies and other insects this May (and hopefully in June onwards), please steer clear of using pesticides and choose plants for your beds or balconies that are pollinator-friendly, such as Dog Rose (Rosa canina), Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense) and English Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia).

If we all pulled together, Wanstead gardens could provide a vital safe haven for our local insect population and wildlife in general. We just need to relax a little and share our space with nature. Happy gardening everyone!

For more information on No Mow May, visit wnstd.com/nomow