Monty Don: Gardener says cutting lawn is ‘injurious’ for wildlife – let grass grow

Monty Don gives tips on planting daffodils in grass

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Cutting lawn, especially in the warmer months is encouraged to keep it looking nice and healthy. However, Monty Don said that cutting your grass “makes a filthy noise and is about the most injurious thing you can do to wildlife”.

The 65-year-old added that keeping grass maintained tends to be a male trait and that male gardeners need to ease off their “obsession” with keeping the lawn short.

The gardener added: “Letting grass grow, which is, after all, a pretty passive thing to do, is probably the single most effective thing you can do in any garden of any size to encourage particularly insect life, but also small mammals, invertebrates, replies.”

He told Radio Times that he loves walking on freshly cut lawns in his bare feet but shared that making sure it’s neat and stripy is unnecessary.

Mowing the lawn also adds to fossil fuels, meaning it can do substantial harm to the environment.

The Gardener’s Word host also said that lockdown has made people see the changes brought about by climate change more clearly.

He explained that people are noticing the flooding more, noticing the weather a lot more as well as flowers blooming earlier than usual.

The gardener added: “The net effect of that is to say, yes, this is happening in my life, on my doorstep, and in itself that’s not a big deal – but that’s the point.”

However, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said that having a mowing regime is an important part of maintaining a healthy lawn.

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It’s website explained: “The cutting height and mowing frequency will depend on the purpose and look you want to achieve, whether it be a close-cut ‘classic’ lawn or a longer-grassed wildlife lawn.”

The RHS recommends mowing lawn twice a week throughout summer and once a week through spring and autumn.

Cutting the grass in winter is not usually necessary, unless the weather is mild and grass is still growing.

In a recent blog post, Monty explained that the best grass likes very well drained soil and the lawn will need mowing in March but not too short.

He said: “The grass will need mowing in March but do not cut it too short. 

“Just give it a light trim for the rest of this month and the grass will be a lot healthier – and better able to resist summer drought – as a result.”

If you have poor drainage such as moss, Monty recommended sticking a fork in the ground and wiggling it around to make your grass healthier. 

He added: “It is also worth giving the lawn a good scratch with a wire rake. 

“This will get at all the overwintering thatch and moss, and let light and water get to the soil and to the roots of the grass. Put the debris on the compost and then mow.”

The gardener also urged Britons to prune any shrubs and climbers in March as this will encourage new growth. 

Monty explained: “The reason for pruning is to encourage vigorous new growth that will in turn produce lots of flowers and, in climbers such as the viticella group clematis, to stop the flowers being produced ever higher and higher up the plant with correspondingly bare lower portion. 

“Deciduous grasses like miscanthus, calamagrostis and deschampsia should all be cut back hard to the ground before the new green shoots start to grow too long. Evergreen grasses like the Stipa and cortaderia families should not be cut back.”

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