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Why you should not cut your grass this weekend

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Sarah Zimmerman walked in front of a mower deliberately and slowly recently. I picture her with a red flag like those 19th-century people who accompanied early adopters of newly motorised vehicles. But that’s probably not how it went. She was mapping out a simple maze and guiding the mower for the first path cut. They are looking forward to seeing what grows as the paths are maintained throughout the summer and the grass is free to grow long and wild. 

It is an experiment for Sarah and the other members of Balbriggan Tidy Towns, this grass maze about the size of a half tennis court. The hope is that this will become a creative play space as well as a natural haven. The grass will give smaller people a sense of a maze without the long wait for box or yew to grow into green walls. 

Letting grass grow is a huge help for insect life. It can put the jungle back into urban jungle, giving insects safe havens in which to hide. No Mow May is the easiest thing you can do to provide a life raft for insects and birds whose habitat is repeatedly destroyed by grazers, mowers and sprayers. It’s a call to inaction, put your feet up. Let the mower gather dust while the dandelions, clover and buttercups have their moments in the sun. 

Natural landscape

Trends in the gardening world have turned from manicured lines to versions of a more natural landscape. Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf is the father of the woolly combination of grasses and perennials, with New York’s High Line linear park bringing a prairie version of plant life into the big apple. He has talked about the importance of how gardens make us feel rather than simply how they look, both at their height and in their bare-bones winter stage. Begone begonias. The easiest and by far the most valuable way to welcome a natural look into your garden or shared green is to let nature do the work. 

The nice thing about combining mowing with growing is our ability to see the wildness, its richness compared to the close-cropped grass. Mowing around a wilded area means we can engage with it in a fun and playful way, and counter any accusations of letting public spaces go. 

Tidy Towns as an organisation has embraced the National Pollinator Plan in a brilliant example of how communities can evolve a better understanding of the importance of “weeds” to our bee and insect populations. There are umpteen grassy areas too small for football which could be let do their thing. A maze path mown through waving grasses and flowers could make them amazing. 

 Catherine Cleary is co-founder of Pocket Forests 



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