Featured in the Radio Times ahead of the new series of BBC Gardeners' World beginning on 19 March, Monty Don said:
“Whereas letting grass grow, which is, after all, a pretty passive thing to do, is probably the single most effective thing you can do in any garden of any size to encourage particularly insect life, but also small mammals, invertebrates, reptiles.”
Men should be less "obsessive" and "controlling" about having a tidy lawn and wanting a perfect patch of grass "tends to be" a male preoccupation and is "about the most injurious thing you can do to wildlife".
Don said he likes "walking on a lawn with bare feet as much as the next person" but "making sure it's stripy and neat" means at least one aspect of life is "under control".
Lawn Association founder David Hedges-Gower said Don's comments could damage the lawncare sector and its contribition to removing carbon dioxide from the air: "We will see a dip in those that relate to him I’m sure, but as long as we keep beating the sustainable drum, educating homeowners and professionals, then we will come through. Like horticulture in general, the lawn care market are cup-half-full people and we'll keep moving forward."
He added that there was now more widespread use of robotic mowers that don't use any fossil fuels and organic feeds are widely available.
"Lawn care has been going green for so long, we’ve all (including retail) been using more organics and developing new ones. The machinery market will see no difference as it has been developing battery for so long."
Hedges-Gower is launching a retail lawncare product made from re-constituted food waste soil conditioner and fertiliser. He said taking care of a lawn takes no more maintenance than the TV presenter's wildflower meadow.
He said the Lawn Association "is all about education - education in lawn care practices (to get away from forks and springboks) to get people to understand the natural lawns and grasses that cover the UK. I push away from sports supposed technology, that only relates to the non-sustainable world of football grasses." He added that he is transitioning a Hidcote lawn failure where use of sports turf technology was unsuccessful.
Alton Garden Centre director Andy Bunker said: "Part of well-being and gardening is cutting your grass and being proud of what you have achieved."