Although spring begins the time for regular and intensive garden care, you should not use the lawn mower in May. Here you can read why this is better for the garden.

“No Mow May” has been around in the UK for many years. Of all places – in a country known for its lawn culture.

In Germany, too, the Rhineland-Palatinate Garden Academy and the German Horticultural Society (DGG) 1822 are calling for the “Mähfreier Mai” campaign.

DGG-1822 managing director Bettina de la Chevallerie explains in an interview why this campaign is so important and how gardeners can mow their lawns correctly.

Question: Why is mowing the lawn problematic?

Bettina de la Chevallerie: A perfectly maintained lawn offers insects hardly any food or nesting opportunities. Studies have shown that the proportion of nectar-rich flowers increases tenfold if you leave the lawnmower standing more often.

The garden owners who took part in the mowing-free May last year and sent in photos for the competition also observed something similar.

Question: Which plants have developed in the lawn?

De la Chevallerie: First of all, of course, quick starters such as daisies, Gundermann, speedwell, clover and dandelions. In some gardens, daisies and cowslips also appeared.

Daisies, clover and dandelions are often frowned upon as weeds. The plants are not weeds, but rather wild herbs. They have a high ecological value for insects. The more we know about these plants, the more acceptance increases. It’s all a question of consciousness.

Question: Doesn’t an unmowed lawn look untidy?

De la Chevallerie: Even what appears to be disorder can appear neat through design. You don’t have to mow the entire lawn, you can leave areas of different heights – at the corners, on the edge or in the middle as an island. A mown path through the tall grass can also provide order. And meadow-like edges that are mown only once a year serve as a dollhouse for butterflies.

Question: What do we humans get out of it?

De la Chevallerie: We can relax in the deck chair, enjoy the garden and perceive it in a completely different way. We can observe butterflies, discover new plants and identify them using an app – or simply be happy that they are there.

Question: What if the neighbors complain?

De la Chevallerie: Talk to you. Tell them: I’m not lazy, I’m doing something for the insects. In this case, doing nothing can be very ecological.

Question: Given the immense number of insects dying, isn’t the campaign a drop in the ocean?

De la Chevallerie: No, she isn’t. 75 percent of households have a garden, 7 percent have an allotment and a further 7 percent of households are active in community gardens. There are also public green spaces and parks – an enormous amount of space over which we can have more influence than on agriculture.

We already know that there are more niches and a higher biodiversity in private gardens than in the wild. In the garden itself, a lawn usually makes up the largest area. If we change something here, we can achieve a lot.

Question: In your opinion, how often is it necessary to mow the lawn?

De la Chevallerie: You can’t say that in general terms. It depends on the usage. If children want to play football on the grass, it should be rather short.

But the area can also be divided into different lawn and meadow areas. You have to mow a flower herb lawn four to six times a year, a flower meadow only two to three times. The mowing then remains on the area to dry. This means the seeds can still fall out of the seed heads and get into the ground.

Question: How do you mow in a way that is better for nature?

De la Chevallerie: It’s best to mow from the inside out so that the insects can escape into the hedges or the neighboring garden. Sickles, scythes, brush cutters or bar mowers are recommended. A rotary mower sucks up insects.

There is a rule of thumb when it comes to height: a lying beer bottle should still fit under the lawnmower. If you tear out too much of it or cut too deeply, it won’t bloom anymore.

Question: What else could be the reason why nothing wants to bloom?

De la Chevallerie: This can have various causes. If the grass is sown too densely, it is difficult for the wild plants to germinate. Pesticides and too much fertilizer also prevent growth.

Question: How can you establish wild plants, even in mossy places?

De la Chevallerie: The most effective way is to chop up the lawn and sow the wild plants in the bare soil. You can also do this in places. If the wild plants then sow themselves, they can slowly spread over the area from there.

Question: What else can be done to make the lawn more ecologically valuable?

De la Chevallerie: It makes sense to use organic fertilizer and use it sparingly. You should also avoid using pesticides – not only on the lawn, but also in the beds. Because everything has an impact on neighboring areas.

Messy corners with dead wood and nettles can develop into small biotopes for beetles, wild bees and butterflies. And small depressions and bowls in which water can collect are valuable insect troughs.

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