Gardening

Top gardening expert urges everyone to stop mowing their lawn

There’s a beautiful and convenient reason to leave the mower in the shed for a bit longer (or forever).
Loading the player...

It’s no secret that mowing your lawn regularly is the key to keeping it lush and green. But everything has a price, and the cost of a weekly mow on the environment can be huge. And there are plenty of experts and advocates sharing other reasons to stop mowing your lawn.

Renowned gardening expert Monty Don from Gardener’s World is a vocal advocate for the “no-mow” approach. In an interview with Radio Times magazine, he emphasised the detrimental effects of mowing.  

“One of the things people like me have been banging on about for ages is that cutting grass burns lots of fossil fuel, makes a filthy noise, and is about the most injurious thing you can do to wildlife,” he explained.  

In fact, researchers from the University of New Hampshire say reducing how much you mow the lawn can help lower carbon emissions, build soil organic matter and even enhance pollinating habitats for bees.

“People may not think the small ecosystem in their own yard – the grass, soil and vegetation – is that important to the health of the whole planet,” said Alexandra Contosta, research assistant professor at UNH’s Earth Systems Research Center.

“But taking important small steps, like not mowing as often, can have a big impact on things like carbon storage and carbon emissions, which can influence climate change.”

The meadow-style lawn alternative

If you want to go one step further, Don wants people to do away with the lawn altogether. Instead, he champions the concept of a meadow-style lawn. 

This sentiment is echoed by Jenny Dillion, gardening editor at Better Homes and Gardens, who notes the rising popularity of wildflower meadow gardens in residential spaces. 

A meadow lawn can be colourful, attract bees and reduce the amount of mowing you need to do.
(Credit: Getty)

What is a meadow-style lawn? 

Jenny describes a wildflower meadow garden as “soft, waving grasses and a tapestry of flowers that reach above your knees.”

She adds: “This garden style is playful, wistful and whimsical and inspires longed-for periods of idleness and daydreaming.”

What happens if I stop cutting my grass?

The best-case scenario is that the grasses and other plants will set seed and attract bees, other insects and a variety of birds.

However, it does depend on the type of lawn you have and the other plants around it. For example, if you have a lot of weeds or unwanted plants in your lawn, not mowing it could allow them to flourish.

Overgrown lawns can also attract unwanted wildlife, such as snakes, with WIRES recommending you keep “your lawn short and yard free of debris” to help reduce the chance of snakes in your yard. You could also consider snake repellents or a no-mow alternative that doesn’t grow too high or too wild.

Planting native violets instead of grass is an alternative that means you can stop mowing your lawn.

How to choose a no-mow lawn

If meadow gardens aren’t your thing, perhaps a no-mow alternative like a Dichondra lawn would suit your style.

In a previous episode of BHG, Charlie Albone says, “When it comes to selecting a no-mow lawn, you want something low to the ground, and you are really after a sprawling ground cover that’s going to take over.”   

He adds, “If you wanted flowers, you could use native violets or even an ajuga.”  

Charlie says a dichondra lawn can take a fair amount of sun and shade and will be thick and lush in about six weeks.   

And the best part is you never have to mow it.

Here are Charlie’s step-by-step instructions for creating a dichondra lawn.

If you’re not ready to go no-mow for your whole lawn, you could also pick out a section and plant it with dichondra, wildflowers or other options that mean you can stop mowing that part of your lawn.

Related stories