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article imageBee Lawns: The little change which could save a species Special

By Sam Wright     Oct 24, 2014 in Environment
A new trend in ‘bee lawns’ has seen lawn maintenance flipped on its head in a bid to preserve the population of the struggling insect.
Plants which are considered weeds in some circles are being actively cultivated in others in a bid to encourage bees into gardens. The bumblebee has been disappearing from British gardens over the course of the last century, with a decline in most species and the extinction of two varieties in the UK. A blended lawn can help encourage these insects back into gardens and hopefully go some way to reversing this trend.
Bees have a key role in food production; insects help to pollinate commercial crops such as tomatoes, peas, apples and strawberries, and without them farmers will have to use high cost alternative pollination methods, meaning that the price of fruit and vegetables is likely to rise.
The decline in the number of bees is largely due to a decline in the wildflowers which used to pepper our countryside. While caused in part by a change in agricultural technique, it can also be attributed to the way we manage our lawns. It’s estimated that since the 1930s we have lost 97 percent of our flower-rich grassland.
In the past lawn grasses were mixed in with different plants including daisies, clover, and even the odd dandelion. In this sort of habitat bees and other pollinators such as birds thrive.
A change in perception meant that more and more people would remove these now unwanted elements, treating lawns with herbicides to remove anything which wasn’t grass. Home lawns developed and attempted to replicate the uniformity of golf greens, and flowers disappeared from our grasses.
Now formal lawns are giving way to herb gardens and vegetable plots, and busy lifestyles mean we require easy-to-maintain lawns. As a result you are now more likely to see smaller lawns, blended lawns, or no lawn at all.
A blended lawn is an excellent way to encourage the bee population. By incorporating bee friendly and lawn suitable plants such as clover back into your grass you can actively encourage bees to visit your garden. The added benefit is that this can also significantly reduce the required maintenance.
Speaking to Digital Journal, Mark Bartram, managing director of lawnmower specialist Lawnmowers Direct, said that more and customers have been asking about blended lawn maintenance in recent years.
“It’s an excellent way to encourage the bee population,” he continued. “By incorporating bee friendly and lawn suitable plants such as clover back into grass homeowners can actively encourage bees to visit their garden.”
“By cultivating a blended lawn, mowing can be reduced to once every few weeks depending on growth. By setting your blades reasonably high (around three inches) your new lawn flowers will thrive and grass will remain healthy. As well as visits from bees you are likely to see an increase in drought resistance, and unwanted weeds are less likely to spring up.”
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