We're in the middle of No Mow May.

How are you doing? Mown anything this month?

Probably not, if you're amongst the growing number of people who are adopting the on-trend idea from UK charity Plantlife which encourages people to let grass and wildflowers grow for a month.  

It's a great campaign, backed by sound science.

Leaving lawns to grow can be beneficial for wildlife.

This year, as well as domestic gardeners, 40 local councils have signed up to the programme including our own here on the Isle of Wight.

Selected verges, parks and greenspaces will be left to grow for a month. 

This is not a new idea. When I worked for the council this suggestion was a regular one, and I'm glad it's now been adopted.

The reason it wasn't back then, oddly enough, was cost. You'd think just not mowing would be cheaper, wouldn't you?

Well, obviously it is, but there's more to it than that. The issue is that cutting a month's worth of grass can be a bigger job than doing a couple of regular cuts.

Longer grass hides litter, which needs to be picked out before mowing, and then there's the huge issue with No Mow May that applies to everyone, not just councils.

The problem is this: if you leave a lot of cut grass to lie on your lawn, verge or park, you risk doing more harm to wildlife than good. 

Most domestic lawnmowers that do not collect grass have the option to mulch it up, and blow the cuttings down into the lawn.

This works fine when the grass is short, but anyone who's tried to mow an overlong lawn with a Flymo or similar small mower knows there are limits.

Commercial grasscutting equipment is sturdier stuff, but few if any councils pay for cuttings to be taken away during regular amenity mowing because that's expensive and usually unnecessary.  

When you cut a long lawn and do not collect the clippings, there is a build up of clumps, as the cut grass simply lies on top of the live grass and dries out or rots.

This is bad for the lawn, keeping light and moisture from the plants, but also it's bad for wildlife.

Wild flowers will not be able to seed, and excess nutrients on the lawn might prevent a more natural sward from developing.  

Plantlife themselves actually advise to leave grass uncut right until the end of July - by which time the lawn would be a very tall one, especially in the damp, mild weather we are currently enjoying. 

They specifically recommend us to "cut and collect mowings once most of the plants have seeded". 

Collecting the cut grass is the key element here, and it's often omitted, especially by councils struggling to save a few pounds. 

So if you're joining in No Mow May, however long you leave your lawn, when you finally do mow it please don't forget Rake Up June!