Grass cutting and ‘No Mow May’
This year we supporting ‘No Mow May’, a national campaign by conservation charity Plantlife which encourages people across the country to not mow gardens and public areas during May in order to help let the wildflowers bloom.
The aim of the campaign is to encourage people to change their habits and only mow once a month in order to let grass grow long to help boost our biodiversity and provide a feast of wildflower nectar for bees. Not cutting for a month encourages more flowers to grow and May is the point when grass starts growing at the highest rate.
We have extended our No Mow May trial
During May 2022 we are trialled leaving a few select areas uncut for the month for No Mow May, with a view to reviewing the visual impact. If you click on following links you will be able to download the maps showing the No May May areas for:
- Abingdon – Abbey Meadow, Fitzharris and Oxford Road
- Faringdon – Marlborough Gardens
- Wantage – Manor Road
Following ‘No Mow May’ we are very keen to continue to encourage wildflowers to grow in the Vale and so we have decided to extend our no mowing trial across all our designated sites for the rest of the season.
By extending the trial until October 2022 we can better assess the impact of leaving these areas to grow naturally and clearly see the visual impact and ecological growth at each site. Residents and visitors will also have more time to let us know what they think.
The locations we picked for the extended trial do not impact on pedestrians or drivers and are also next to shorter grass and pathways for people wishing to exercise, play, or simply sit there with friends and family.
We are aware that unmaintained areas of grass can attract litter and other unwanted nasties. If you do see anything that could cause harm, please let us know.
To ensure wildflowers are given the best opportunity to flourish we politely ask people to stay out of the designated areas.
We will shortly upload some photos of the of the No Mow May sites taken following completion of the initial month’s trial at the end of May. We will then publish more pictures over the coming months to show how each site is getting on.
Our wildflower meadows
We also have several designated areas across the Vale of White Horse that are our wildflower meadows where we only cut the grass three times during the year – at the beginning and end of the growing season in March and October, plus a cut and rake up in September once the wildflowers have set seed.
This helps to ensure that grass doesn’t dominate the area and gives wildflowers the chance to establish and grow. In some cases, we also plug plants or sow wildflower seeds to encourage a more diverse range of species.
If you click on following links you will be able to download the maps showing our wildflower areas for:
- Abingdon – Abbey Meadow
- Cumnor – Fogwell
- Faringdon – Folly Park
- Faringdon – Follyview
- Wantage – Mably Way
- Wantage – Memorial Park
Why we have to cut the grass more frequently in some areas
We have to cut the grass more often in our parks, open spaces and other amenity land to ensure it’s safe to use. Letting grass grow long in areas where children play, in ‘kickabout’ fields and land adjacent to our play equipment, could hide potentially dangerous litter, glass or dog mess.
It’s also important for us to keep grass short in areas where people exercise, enjoy picnics or just sitting with friends and family – to ensure these areas are suitable for public use, we carry out cutting around 15 times a year, while other urban areas which have less formal use, but still need maintaining, for instance for dog walking, all mowed eight times a year.
We also have to ensure we cut grass frequently enough to reduce the amount of loose clippings which could scatter across paths and roads which could cause issues for natural wildlife or block drains.
We are also reviewing all of our grounds maintenance practises with the aim of increasing biodiversity on public land. We’ll publish information about this project in due course.
Who is responsible for grass cutting
We are responsible for cutting grass on most public land in our district but there are lots of other contractors working on behalf of housing associations, and towns and parishes council and the county council. We also cut some highway verges in Abingdon, Wantage and Faringdon which are owned by Oxfordshire County Council but we carry out the cutting on their behalf as the areas are adjacent to land we own.