Mowing for butterflies – how to mow your garden insect-friendly

The principle of a garden that is to be inhabited by different species is diversity. This means a variety of habitats that merge with one another freely. Meadow gradually turns into a wetland with hydrophilous plants and eventually into a pond. Meadow is partly open and partly shaded by an orchard, in places turning into a wild corner. Solitary trees and dead trunks are interspersed with rockeries with thermophilous plant species and aromatic herbs. Hedges or groups of shrubs provide shelter and food in the form of berries in autumn.

In effect, we can create a miniature landscape that will contain almost all latitude and longitude environments and thus attract the relevant animals.

Watch the video by the Czech project partner and read the article to learn more!

Trees and flowers

Wherever possible, let’s try to grow native species of trees, shrubs and flowers. Choose species and varieties that not only produce a rich and tasty harvest, but also provide shelter and food for animals.

In the case of fruit trees, for example, it is advisable to go for native regional varieties that are best adapted to local conditions, do not suffer from disease and offer a rich variety of fruit aromas and flavours.

We buy seeds and seedlings from local gardeners and ask them if they are local native species. Native plants are not usually found in the shops of multinational companies.

Another option is to collect seeds or seedlings from the surrounding countryside. This way we do not risk introducing something non-native into the garden that will then be sown in the surrounding countryside where it will cause mischief. But this has strict rules. We never take endangered or protected species and we never take from a protected area, park or reserve.

A little wilderness

We can grow creeping or climbing shrubs (for example, blackberries and ivy), but wild species can also find their place here. It is advisable to place such a corner in a less frequented part of the garden, where nobody minds and the animals have the necessary peace and quiet. Throw in a pile of cut wood and stones or leave an old dead or gradually dying tree, which will also greatly enhance the potential of your garden.

Leave areas of tall grass. A short mown lawn is almost dead and animals will avoid it from a distance. By mowing frequently, not only will you not help the animals, but you will encourage the soil in your garden to dry out quickly.

How to care for a flowering meadow

An English-style lawn may look very pretty to some, but to animals it is synonymous with an inhospitable desert. With a flowering meadow comes insects, and with insects come the animals that feed on them – such as all our songbirds, lizards, bats and many more. The meadow provides food, shelter and a place to breed.

Flowering herbs are particularly damaged by frequent short mowing. They then fail to seed and over time grasses and groundcover plants dominate.

If we want a garden full of flowers and butterflies, we need to suppress grasses and encourage flowers as much as possible.

When mowing, try occasionally substituting a lawn mower for a traditional scythe or sickle.

How to mosaic mowing

  1. The grasses mature gradually from May to September. To control them, they should be cut at the time of flowering.
  2. If selective mowing of grasses is not possible, the solution is to mow in stages. For example, divide the area into three sections, which will be mowed separately once or twice a year. Primarily select the areas where the least amount of grass is currently flowering. The insects will gradually move between the strips.
  3. Always purchase regional seeds for sowing or reseeding flowering meadows.

What to offer butterflies and bumblebees?

We should offer bumblebees and butterflies flowering herbs and woody plants for as long as possible during the year. Bumblebees, for example, wake up early in the spring, when pussy willow, coltsfoots and snowdrops are in bloom. In turn, flowering herbs in autumn can help still awake butterflies survive the delayed winter.

In addition, butterflies are also tied to their food plants, on which they lay their eggs and on which the caterpillars subsequently feed (e.g. thymus, nettle, lotus, fennel or even hawthorn). They will also fly to a dry shelter where they can survive the winter – this could be our attic or rotten wood.

Aromatic plants, especially plants from the deadnettle family (e.g. oregano, lemon balm, mint, sage, thymus), umbellifers (e.g. dill, coriander, chervil) and legume plants, are the best sources of nectar and pollen. Also basket flower, lavender, thistles, great is also holy rope and dwarf elderberry. Daisies, sunflowers and marigolds also serve well. In addition to sunflowers, bumblebees also like to visit various legumes (e.g. clover or peas). Many vegetables such as radish, dill, curcuma, black salsify or lettuce can also be left to flower and shed seed.

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