Wildflowers and long grass areas are great for biodiversity, especially for pollinators like bees, butterflies, hoverflies, and other insects. They also look good and can help support our mental health.
We are committed to supporting local wildlife, habitats, access to greenspace, and nature. One way we continue to support biodiversity is by developing our grass-cutting and land management practices to let more areas grow wilder in suitable locations.
Our commitment to supporting biodiversity is explained in our biodiversity and green infrastructure strategy, Natural Woking.
Care of highway verges
From April 2023, Surrey County Council (SCC) is responsible for highway verge grass cutting and weed control across the whole of Surrey.
How we are changing our management
Over the last decade, a growing number of grassed areas have been used to allow grass to grow a little taller for some or most of the year. In some places, wildflowers have also been sown. These areas range from private gardens to roadside verges and areas of public green space.
These locations, and the way we manage them, are carefully chosen to help nature as much as we can whilst ensuring we maintain an attractive, cared for appearance throughout Woking.
The factors we need to consider in choosing these places include safe access and practicality for future maintenance, the range of users of that space and their needs (for example, playing fields need to be kept cut short), as well as choosing the right type of planting for the site’s wildlife and the changing climate.
A variety of management approaches are used to help achieve a diverse range of opportunities for wildlife, whilst also ensuring we meet the community’s other needs from these locations. For example grass cutting at different frequencies gives different growing heights for varying habitats (e.g. flowering lawn, meadow cut, amenity cut) as well as for different uses of that space (for example, short cut grass for sports pitches).
‘No Mow May’
The Council takes part in the ‘No Mow May’ campaign each year. No Mow May is organised by Plantlife, a British conservation charity working nationally and internationally to save threatened wildflowers, plants and fungi. It asks everyone to leave areas of usually mown grass uncut to enable wildflowers to bloom, providing nectar for pollinators.
The sites that the Council and our grounds maintenance contractor Serco leave uncut during May include meadows, ‘flowering lawns’ and areas planted with bulbs or seeded with annual or perennial wildflower seeds.
Elsewhere and sometimes within these areas, we need to maintain sightlines for safety, so will continue to mow an edge strip of grass the width of a lawnmower. There are also some locations which need to be mowed for other operational reasons, such as where litter would otherwise build up, creating a hazard to people and wildlife.
If you would like to suggest a location for wildflowers or longer grass on land the Borough Council cares for, or have spotted an unusual wildflower plant growing wild in the borough, email our green infrastructure team to let us know.