Do you want to encourage more pollinators in your garden? Here at Paignton Zoo, we’re doing just that… by putting down our mowers and taking part in Plantlife’s No Mow May®.
We’ve dedicated one of the lawns on our site to be a no-mow zone, so we’re leaving it to grow wild to allow plants to pop up, and bees, butterflies and other pollinators to find food.
First launched in 2019 by the charity Plantlife, No Mow May® encourages gardeners across the country to stop mowing their lawns for the month of May, with the hope of helping them to change their gardening habits and learn to love their garden in a more natural state.
Last year, people who chose not to mow during May were rewarded with rare plants – over 250 wild plant species were recorded by participants, including wild strawberries, snake’s head fritillary and a variety of wild orchids. Lawns are commonly known as wastelands for wildlife, so seeing so much biodiversity in back gardens across the UK is what really makes No Mow May® special.
After the month of May, Plantlife recommend that you mow less frequently than before, and leave patches or borders unmown for a month at a time to encourage a variety of plants and insects.
We’re doing just that here at Paignton Zoo – we’ll be keeping some areas more wild to help our native species and growing pollinator-friendly plants to provide a food source to the variety of insects that live here.
What else can you do to make your garden more wildlife-friendly?
- Don’t trim your hedges and shrubs until the end of August. These are perfect homes for nesting birds, so by trimming them you could disturb an active nest.
- Leave areas of your garden less tidy to give bugs and animals places to rummage, hide and find food. We recommend a log pile or corner of the garden that is left to grow wild.
- Install bug or bee hotels. You can make them yourselves at home with hollow stems, old wood, garden canes, bricks and stones – all things that you might find around the garden!
- Avoid weed-killers and pesticides. These will affect all of the wildlife in your garden, not just the pests and weeds, so they’re best avoided.
- Buy peat-free compost and plants, or even better – sow the seeds yourselves! Peat releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which adds to greenhouse gas levels.