Spring-lawnA grass -free ‘Floral Lawn’ has been opened today in Avondale Park, West London. It’s plants, which include daisies, red-flowering clover, thyme, chamomile, pennyroyal and Corsican mint, create a “pollinator-friendly patchwork” – with 25% more insect life than that found in “traditionally managed grass lawns”.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea commissioned the biodiverse floral lawn from Lionel Smith, a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) sponsored PhD student, and RBKC’s gardening team. It is the first time that a public park has featured this new form of lawn.

Planting a public space with specially selected and researched plants will give Lionel a valuable insight into how the public will react to this non-traditional lawn. Previously all his research has been on experimental plots at Reading University. The idea has prompted questions about ‘just what makes a lawn a lawn’. Lionel says:

“Lawns are normally associated with closely trimmed grass but mine are, I believe, entitled to be called that too. They are not only beautiful and easy to maintain but also environmentally friendly. It will be interesting to see how visitors to Avondale Park, where this public trial sward is to be being planted, will react. I hope to get some feedback as part of my research.”

Traditional grass lawns, if regularly mown,  might look good, but have you thought about:

  • how they provide a pretty sterile living environment for insects and other critters?
  • how demanding they can be in terms of water, fertiliser, weedkiller, and energy use?

What do you think about this? Have you got a traditional grass lawn in your garden or have you turned it (or some of it) over to wild flowers or other uses? Should we turn over more areas of traditional grass lawn in public parks and spaces into grass- free or more diverse habitats? I’d love to hear your views!

Further information:

BBC News report and video

‘Rethinking the traditional grass lawn’ -blog article by Lionel Smith

Old School Gardener

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