Research begins into grass-free flowering lawns to help maintain biodiversity

Research has begun at the University of Reading into grass-free biodiverse flowering lawns.

The three-year research project by PhD student Lionel Smith at the Centre for Horticulture & Landscape has a strong emphasis on aesthetic as well as ecological aspects. The research is being supported by £60,000 of contributions and in-kind help from The Finnis-Scott Foundation, The Dick Allen Trust, the RHS, and Herbiseed.

Smith said he was keen to hear from anyone with unusual forms or colour variants of native and non-native lawn-dwelling species that may be incorporated in the study.

"I'm hoping for a new use for lawn space that isn't too different - it's still a lawn of sorts and will still need a rare going over with a mower - but requires fewer inputs, overall less mowing and is a potential aid to biodiversity, as well as being a possible new canvas for gardeners/landscapers and a boost to the horticulture industry."

Smith, who is being supervised by Ross Cameron, said the idea behind the research is that climate change is having an impact on the traditional lawn and its maintenance. He said lawns could be used to act as a buffer to the loss of UK biodiversity. The basic constituent, grass, can be changed to be more climate change tolerant.

He added: "There is also an opportunity to access the growing public awareness of threats to animal and plant life and the increasing openness to 'green' ideas. An unused grass lawn space that's mown once a fortnight now the kids have gone might be something anyone might attempt to makeover to an essentially grass-free insect/bird-friendly environment.

"There is an opportunity to use low-growing/prostrate/plastic forms of relatively common species to achieve this. The need for mowing may therefore be reduced."

- For details, email l.s.smith@

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next



These compact, brightly coloured flowers can be very attractive for impulse sales, notes Miranda Kimberley.

Fertilisers Special Report - invaluable nutrition

Fertilisers Special Report - invaluable nutrition

Using the right fertilisers on your crops can make all the difference when it comes to securing repeat customers, Sally Drury advises.

IPM Essen Show Preview - New look for top trade fair

IPM Essen Show Preview - New look for top trade fair

Venue modernisation will mean better display space for exhibitors at Europe's largest trade fair for the horticulture industry, says Gavin McEwan.

Opinion... Gardening needs better promotion

Opinion... Gardening needs better promotion

British horticultural firms and organisations have not been the best at working together to promote our industry.

Opinion... A wish list for unblinkered thinking

Opinion... A wish list for unblinkered thinking

Opinion... A wish list for unblinkered thinking

Opinion... A wish list for unblinkered thinking

Generations of ordinary British people have been let down by weak, visionless leaders -- politicians more engaged by the next election than our national best interest.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production

Read Tim Edwards

Ornamentals ranking

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Tough retail pricing policies and Brexit opportunities drive the top 30 growth strategies.

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world

Read more Peter Seabrook articles