Today I mowed my front lawn. Now it looks similar to all the others on our road. Flat, green, tidy, uniform, dull, lifeless.
I felt bad. I was doing it for the best of reasons – my Mum likes a tidy front garden. She can’t help feeling a bit embarrassed when the lawn that everyone else can see becomes colonised by daisies and dandelions. Out back it’s a different story. She’s read the pleas from the RSPB, she’s put up with me banging on about it. She knows that leaving the grass longer is good for nature.
If you see grass from a worm’s eye view, it’s clear it isn’t just a carpet, even a tufty, bristly one. A field can resemble a forest if you get the right perspective. And just as a forest can have diverse life throughout its varied layers, so can a patch of grass. Like in a healthy forest, food and shelter are everywhere and teeming pollinators keep the system going. Until muggins here lays waste to the whole thing with the lawnmower. Where ten minutes previously was a nicely varied collection of vegetation of differing heights and characteristics is now only green conformity. What have I done? What have I become?
Of course you might need to see out of your windows and get the door open so some cutting is going to be needed occasionally. Start in the middle (so that any creatures that need to can nip away while you’re mowing), don’t go stupid short, and leave a few bits if you can. Clumps, tussocks, bits that are a little longer – all will help your garden be a better place for the hordes of interesting things that would love to move in with you.