How glorious it is to anticipate basking time. Our lawns hold so much value in terms of simple, unadulterated, good old fashioned joy, that it is worth thinking about how to get the most out of them, rather than just putting them in the “Oooh I MUST MOW” box. Of course there’s much more to it than that. If you want a perfect, bowling green-type sward, then you will have to spend time, money and much effort creating a monoculture. You will have to aerate, scarify, remove weeds and moss, re-seed, fertilise, correct imperfections and mow, mow, mow, and you will also have to be mindful that all this work leaves you enough time to sit on your lawn (if you can bear to let yourself).
Nobody can deny that the aesthetic benefits of a neat lawn are huge. There is no other single job that will lift a garden out of messy and into neat as easily and quickly as mowing your lawn and creating a few crisp edges. It allows you to be almost entirely slatternly in the borders and it gives you that happy feeling of being in control. But don’t go thinking that the alternative is to let it all go to rack and ruin. There is a space we can all happily inhabit in between, and by ‘all’ I’m thinking about wildlife, as well as you, and your children and your picnics and ball games. If your lawn is a good size, consider creating different areas, keeping some parts nice and short (good for rolling around, and kicking balls, and ground-nesting bees, and hedgehogs) and letting the grass grow long in other places (good for insects and birds that feed on them, and pretty Instagram photos). This is what I call a zero-fuss, totally free ‘meadow’.
When you start cutting the lawn, begin with the highest setting possible, and move down incrementally from there. Get to a stage where the grass to two or three inches in height, removing and composting any mowings, and then leave it alone from late May or early June onwards, for the whole summer. It’s not a wildflower meadow by any stretch, but it will provide a mini-jungle for all sorts of wildlife and add interest to your lawn. As long as you cut the short bits with panache, creating clean lines and a stark contrast between long and short, then it will look intentional, and therefore a feast for the eyes. Mowing around the edge of a lawn and leaving the centre long is a great first step, but sweeping paths, mazes or geometric designs are all possible with a little forethought.
If you love the whole meadow vibe, and decide that it’s definitely for you in the future, then consider replacing your long grass with a soil-appropriate wildflower turf from wildflowerturf.co.uk. in the future.