Get to know your lawn

Vaughan Matthews

Find out all the hidden secrets your lawn has been keeping from you, and how to turn your garden into a haven for wildlife!

How well do you actually know your lawn? It seems a funny question really and you may think it’s just that grassy stuff that you have to mow every few weeks; but did you know that a root around can show up all sorts of other plants, which if you allow them to grow just a little bit will make for a fascinating new world below your feet?

Delving amongst the blades of grass, all sorts of little leaves begin to appear which, whilst tiny at first, will eventually display a flower. 

So, what might you expect to see? You will likely already be familiar with the common daisy, creeping buttercup and dandelion but other plants include ribwort plantain, broad-leaved plantain, red and white clover, ground ivy, dove’s-foot cranesbill, slender speedwell, germander speedwell, common mouse-ear and of course; carpets of moss.

Whilst lawn perfectionists consider them as weeds, these little plants are busy competing for a space in the world.  Just think of the road verges before they are cut with swathes of vibrant yellow dandelions and buttercups and the more delicate but equally cheerful daisies. Add to this the other little plants mentioned and before you know it there’s a sea of pinks, purples, blues and reds in the mix. Who knew a lawn could be so colourful?

As you begin to get familiar with the flowers, change your focus to the leaves. Now these are harder to identify, but once you get your eye in, you'll spot plants as they start to grow. The challenge is then remembering them the following spring when your lawn begins to bust into life once again. One particularly lovely leaf is that of the common mouse-ear; so-named because of its tiny hairy leaves, which are soft to the touch and resemble the ears of mice.

If you’re hooked by what you see, why not let areas grow and treat them as mini wildflower meadows? You’ll save time mowing and be amazed at the attention they get from insects and birds. Bees in particular love clovers, so, you’ll be providing them with a tasty treat. Whilst ribwort plantain is enjoyed by many insects including butterflies and moths; as the flowers disappear to leave behind seed heads, watch the birds move in for a winter snack. Your lawn will soon become a haven for wildlife and a thing of beauty in its own right.