That’s why you shouldn’t mow the lawn in May
Question: Why is lawn mowing a problem?
Bettina de la Chevallerie: A perfectly manicured lawn offers little food and nesting opportunities for insects. Studies have shown that leaving the lawnmower idle more often increases the proportion of nectar-rich flowers by a factor of ten. The garden owners who took part in the mow-free May last year and sent in photos for the competition made a similar observation.
Question: Which plants have developed in the lawn?
De la Chevalerie: First of all, of course, quick starters like daisies, ground ivy, speedwell, clover and dandelion. In some gardens, however, daisies and cowslips also appeared.
Daisies, clover and dandelions are often frowned upon as weeds. However, the plants are not weeds, but wild herbs. They have a high ecological value for insects. The more we know about these plants, the more acceptance grows. It’s all a question of consciousness.
Rule of thumb with beer bottle
Question: Doesn’t an uncut lawn look messy?
De la Chevalerie: Even a supposed disorder can appear orderly through design. You don’t have to mow the entire lawn, you can leave areas with different heights – at the corners, at the edge or in the middle as an island. Even a mowed path through the long grass can provide order. And meadow-like fringes that are mowed only once a year serve as a pupa for butterflies.
Question: What do we humans get out of it?
De la Chevalerie: We can relax in the deck chair, enjoy the garden and perceive it in a completely different way. We can observe butterflies, discover new plants and identify them via app – or simply be happy that they are there.
Question: What if the neighbors complain?
De la Chevalerie: talk to you Tell them: I’m not lazy, I do something for the insects. In this case, doing nothing can be very ecological.
Question: In view of the immense insect mortality, isn’t the action a drop in the ocean?
De la Chevalerie: No she is not. 75 percent of households have a garden, 7 percent an allotment garden and another 7 percent of households are active in community gardens. There are also public green spaces and parks – an enormous amount of space that we can influence more than agriculture.
We already know that there are more niches and a higher biodiversity in private gardens than in the wild. In the garden itself, a lawn usually makes up the largest area. If we change something here, we can achieve a lot.
Question: How often do you think it is necessary to mow the lawn?
De la Chevalerie: You can’t say that in general. It depends on usage. If children want to play football on the lawn, it should be rather short.
But the area can also be divided into different lawn and meadow areas. A flowering herb lawn has to be mowed four to six times a year, a flower meadow only two to three times. The mowing then remains on the surface to dry. The seeds can still fall out of the seed stands and get into the ground.
Question: How do you mow in a way that is better for nature?
De la Chevalerie: It is best to mow from the inside out so that the insects can escape to the hedges or the neighboring garden. Sickle, scythe, brush cutter or bar mower are recommended. A rotary mower sucks in insects.
There is a rule of thumb for the height: A lying beer bottle should still fit under the lawnmower. Underneath you tear out too much or cut in too deeply so that no more flowers.
Question: What else can it be that nothing wants to bloom?
De la Chevalerie: There can be different reasons. If the grass has been sown too densely, it will be difficult for the wild plants to germinate. Pesticides and too much fertilizer also prevent growth.
Question: How can you settle wild plants, even in mossy places?
De la Chevalerie: The most effective way is to hack up the lawn and sow the wild plants into the bare soil. You can also do this in places. If the wild plants then sow themselves, they can slowly spread over the area from there.
Question: What else can be done to make the lawn more ecologically valuable?
De la Chevalerie: It makes sense to use organic fertilizer and use it sparingly. You should also do without pesticides – not only on the lawn, but also in the beds. Because everything has an impact on the neighboring areas.
Untidy corners with dead wood and stinging nettles can develop into small biotopes for beetles, wild bees and butterflies. And small sinks and bowls where water can collect are valuable insect drinkers.