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NEW LAWS FOR LAWNS! Forget pristine turf – delicate flowers will add charm to grass

NEW LAWS FOR LAWNS! Forget pristine turf — delicate flowers will add charm to grass

  • Weedless lawns are popular but we are becoming more liberal about grass care
  • 2022’s No Mow May campaign was a game-changer, according to Nigel Colborn 
  • The UK-based garden expert says many were delighted by the wild flowers  

When I was a boy, the average garden was larger than today. My dad made our back lawn into a tennis court, marked out with white lines. But his real pride and joy was the front lawn. 

My friends and I could play anywhere in the garden, but not on that lawn. When mown, the old Atco mower left dark and pale stripes on the faultless turf. 

Weedless lawns are still popular. But people are becoming more liberal about grass care. This year’s No Mow May campaign was a game-changer. Many were delighted with the daisies and hawkweeds that appeared. 

2022’s No Mow May campaign was a game-changer, according to Nigel Colborn. The UK-based garden expert says many were delighted by the wild flowers

Lawns don’t even have to be grass. One of my gravel paths became infested with creeping white clover last year. I am lazy and put off weeding it. By August, clover covered all the gravel, so I mowed it, resulting in uniform, vivid green cover dotted with clover buds. 

That path runs between a raised border and our patio. Sweet violets line its shady side, merging with the clover. Now we’ve a charming feature. 

SOFT AND SCENTED 

Weedless, groomed grass lawns are at the heart of British gardens. As well as being attractive features, they can extend to pathways. Grassed areas make safe play areas, too, and not just for kids. A summer drinks party or barbecue is ideal when there’s plenty of lawn space for guests. 

In small gardens, a tiny grass lawn is an option. Paving is less trouble, but has all the charm of a petrol station forecourt. 

In sunny conditions, wild, creeping thymes make for wonderful cover. The prettiest, our native, wild Thymus serpyllum develops into a soft, more or less even carpet. In early summer, thousands of tiny pink, white or purple flowers appear. 

After flowering, a light trim — possible with a rotary mower — restores evenness. Good varieties include pale-flowered Doone Valley, deeper pink, Elfin and white Snowdrift. 

A chamomile lawn is another option. Less easy than thyme to keep tight-cropped, this needs more care. 

The quickest planting method is to buy bundles of rooted chamomile ‘runners’. You need up to 80 of these per square metre of lawn. 

For fragrant chamomile lawns, most choose variety Treneague. But it doesn’t flower, making it unfriendly to pollinating insects. Wild Chamaemelum nobile is more compact, with little daisy flowers and feathery leaves.

GROW A MEADOW 

There are other carpeting plants, but few as effective as clover, thyme and chamomile. 

Most hard-wearing is grass. But it doesn’t have to be grass alone. Instead, you can include a mix of companion plants. 

Wild, ancient meadows support a vast diversity of non-grass plants. And we can include the prettiest of these in a lawn. Large species such as knapweeds, field scabious and oxeye daisies are unsuitable, but smaller gems are ideal. 

For spring, you can grow cowslips or wild primroses. Dog violets often colonise short grass, too. For later, there are lawn daisies, carpeting hawkweeds such as lemon yellow Hieraceum pilosella or blue birds-eye speedwell, Veronica persica.

You can include little bulbs, too. Early crocuses, wild scillas plus hardy tuber Cyclamen hederifolium could all be at home in your flowery mini-lawn. 

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