The monoculture of the traditional English lawn may be over after the first ”grass-free” lawn made up of 75 species of flowers, that only needs to be mown a handful of times a year, was launched in London
The floral, scented lawn in Avondale Park in Kensington and Chelsea park is mown three to nine times a year as opposed to the 20 or 30 times that is standard for a standard British lawn.
It also provides better habitat for bees and other insects, is resilient to drought and requires no weed killers and sprays.
The lawn was planted by Lionel Smith from the University of Reading as part of a wider project sponsored by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Mr Smith set out to find an alternative to the traditional lawn amid fears that grass needs too many chemicals and water to sustain in a warming world of hosepipe bans and rising prices for fertiliser.
It has even been suggested the English lawn will become a sign of “social and moral decadence” as climate change makes it difficult to maintain grass.
Celebrity gardeners including Carol Klein have complained that just grass is a “monoculture” that fails to attract bees and other wildlife.
Mr Smith used a combination of 75 plants to provide a green space that can be sat upon and strolled over just like a normal lawn but does not need as much maintenance.
The biodiversity is also more resistant to disease and better for bees and other pollinating insects that require a varied diet of nectar and pollen.
Mr Smith used daisies, red-flowering clover, thyme, camomile, pennyroyal and Corsican mint to create a “pollinator-friendly patchwork” – with 25 per cent more insect life than that found in “traditionally managed grass lawns”.
Plants that are usually thought of as weeds in a lawn like mouse-ear hawkweed were used alongside exotic species like the pratia and cotula from New Zealand. Flowers like buttercups add colour, sweet violas add scent and different shaped leaves like clovers tadd texture.
Kensington and Chelsea Council commissioned the lawn but it is now expected to take off as other gardeners want a mowing-free, drought resistant, wildlife friendly option.
The new lawn should eventually be available in garden centres in less than a decade as turf, or in growing pots or even as seed.
“People think you have to have a velvety green lawns that needs hard work and industrial amounts of chemicals or a wild flower meadow. This offers an alternative that is easy to look after but will be better for wildlife and climate change,” said Mr Smith.
The sweeping green lawn has been fashionable since the 17th Century and the designs of Capability Brown.
But Leigh Hunt of the RHS said it was about time that the English lawn was updated.
“We were very interested by the horticultural potential. Lawns are great in gardens but why not look at alternatives?”
Would you prefer a flowering meadow to an English lawn?