Jobs For June In Your Wild Space

The Secret Gardener

The ‘No Mow May’ campaign by our friends at Plantlife seems to have reached wider than ever this year. Friends and family told me they were trying it for the first time, which is fantastic, and as June approaches I’m encouraging people to stick with it for the whole summer. Here’s why!

No Mow May has been lauded as a way to help pollinators like bees, which visit flowers for nectar and pollen. Bee-friendly wildflowers in lawns may include plants like Dandelion, Self-heal, White Clover and even Bird’s-foot Trefoil. But at Butterfly Conservation we want people to remember the caterpillars of butterflies and moths which can’t just fly away when the flowers are chopped by the mowers at the end of May.

Our recent research shows that gardens with longer grass through the summer have higher numbers of butterflies and more species in them. This may be because caterpillars of several common butterfly species like Speckled Wood and Ringlet feed on grass right through the summer, only really taking a break in the autumn and winter when they go down to the base of the plants. Wildflowers which have had a chance to bloom in May might also be hosting caterpillars on their leaves, with Dandelions providing food for moths like Large Yellow Underwing and Ruby Tiger.

Leaving the mower in the shed is the best thing that can be done for butterflies and moths like these, giving them time to feed up and complete their life cycles in peace. I dread to think how many caterpillars are going to be accidentally killed in June when people resume ‘business as usual’ in the garden!

So, what are the ways to continue to let it bloom in June? Firstly, you can reclaim part of the lawn you don’t use for other things by simply mowing a path through it. This way you will be able to access other parts of the garden while still enjoying the biodiversity benefits either side of the path. Or if you really need to take it down a bit you could raise the mower to the highest possible setting and give the area a light trim which should allow some caterpillars to survive the mowing.

Some people get bored of looking at grass though, so I always recommend trying to diversify grasslands in Wild Spaces. This can be through the use of vigorous native plants like Knapweed and Red Campion which can fight their way through the grass. You can grow these from seed or buy them as plug plants. If you can only get small plugs, I recommend growing them on in pots until they have good strong roots and longer leaves before putting them into the lawn. These will give colourful flowers that will attract adult insects.

So, however your ‘No Mow May’ has gone, we hope you will stick with it for the months to come to see and experience the real benefits it can bring to nature.

Want more inspiration to transform your lawn for butterflies and moths? Visit Transform your Lawn – Wild Spaces (