Don’t Mow – Let It Grow!

orchard herbal leyOnce the kids have gone and cricket games are no longer you may wish to pause and ponder the usefulness of your lawn.

If no compelling reason other than tidiness comes to mind, let me suggest you plant it up or let it go. Either way you’re adding to your homegrown mulch stash, improving the overall health of your garden and have one less job on Saturday. Indulge me here and my home grown mulch addiction – because there is no goodness like it. Hay (or simply long grass) is super nutritious. Add a bit of depth to your hay with nourishing plants like dandelion, chicory and plantain and your mulch goes next level.

Nuts and bolts

Everywhere you weed-eat, mow or (god forbid) spray is fair game. Simply let it grow long and luscious until you need mulch then lop it down in your chosen way, leaving a good 10cm stub behind for best health.There are a surprising amount of opportunities for homemade hay once your mind shifts its focus from tidy gardening to the wild-side. Gather little bits from here there and everywhere – let go the vision of a paddock full, and you’ll be amazed at the good value of my proposition.

My garden is too small

No my friend, it is not! Many of you in small space gardens dismiss this idea of growing your own mulch, thinking you have no room. The thing is there is no difference – small or large, the amount of space to grow the mulch is relative to the size of garden needing the mulch. We’re all in the same boat.

Benefits abound


Bees, butterflies and insects adore this kind of stomping ground. Our passion to nurture bees and indeed all life forms (don’t forget our friends beneath the soil), means we’ll all be making the leap and getting more wild/ less tidy, the more our understanding grows.

Left to grow, roots dive deep grasping the earth – strong!, enabling the soil to do a better job of holding water in a big rain.

Beneficial fungi and their companions gather beneath trees and spray free, wild areas and spread outward from there. A nutrient exchange network that boosts production and health 100 fold.

Growing your own means there is one less thing to buy – how cool is that! And along the way providing a pesticide free mulch for your garden – yes!

Blaze a trail

tamaki december

I cut a path to whatever fruit tree is being harvested. As well as a barrow load of best mulch, it makes for easy access to fallen fruits. I like it too because a surprising amount of people will just stand at the edge of long grass areas – a path invites them in.

When the tree finishes with its bounty, I let the meadow return and open a new path to the next ready tree. This regular supply of mulch is the bees knees.

You can apply this idea to your backyard by cutting a track to wherever it is you roam – the washing line, the chook house, the vegie patch, the driveway. Tracks make getting about easier and keeps legs dry when summer is wet like this one.

Fly in the ointment

You may have one – another half with firm ideas of lawn management. Fingers crossed you can meet halfway.

In the same way that we no longer iron clothes, we’ll soon stop all this mowing malarkey I’m sure. It’s such a strongly held belief so we must be patient with the believers all the while nudging them over to our side. 😋

A good next step is to mow a bit higher and get used to a more rustic look, besides longer lawns prevent many lawn weeds like Onehunga taking grip. Or have a play with leaving the lawn as long as possible before mowing. I feel a prize coming on for every centimetre!

Consider it a work in progress.

When meadow lawn doesn’t work

  • Hayfever is no fun and if one of your beloveds gets sneezy and itchy this wont work for you. In this instance turn your lawn into one of these gorgeous mulch providing gardens instead.
  • Bee allergies are compelling reasons to cut the lawn and lop off clover flowers.
  • High fire risk areas
  • Young kids at play. We used to play cricket in the lawn off the deck but the kids are nearly all grown and flown so we no longer need it. I’m gradually planting it up. Life is change and gardens evolve alongside our needs.


  1. What a pleasure to read, Kath! I have been recently loving the meadows around where I live. These beautiful seas of grass in all hues of gold and brown. It would be such a pleasure if there was more of this to see, let alone the benefits of course. Thank you for heralding the way forward with your article!

  2. Hi Kath, thanks sooooooooo much for this! Completely validates what I’ve been doing/not doing at home….ie, mowing! Love it and th biodiversity we’re seeing, be it insect life or rabbits and pheasant in our urban back yard…I spent an hour or so line trimming around th raised bed garden and edges of th chook runs and now I’ve got hay/mulch just as you say…th rest will keep for another day…brilliant!…better go finish th chook run extension and then think about….autumnal crops….love yr work, always inspires me, thanks!

  3. Absolutely Kath! When I bought the place I’m in it was just lawn, crap soil, a few ornamentals and unhealthy pittos. Bit by bit I’ve been planting, mulching (living near the coast helps), big compost piles/hugelkultures. I just weedeat a path among the yarrow, dandelions and grasses for access. Bees, hoverflies and other goodies galore.
    Exactly as your article. While it’s not exactly productive, it’s a more natural pleasant space.

    • Yes Terri – alot more plesant and I think once people go there they’ll prefer it too! While it doesn’t seem to, alot happens in these wild areas – they’re important side kicks to the productive places!

  4. Joy Anderton says

    Happy New Year Kath
    WOW thus may just be the year I dare to let the lawn grow!!
    I have hinted at it for many years but there have been no encouraging murmers so now I have your wonderful post to. back me up. We came back from holiday to about 8 cms of lovely clover plantain and dock so I mowed it and left cuttings on lawn. Whimp me. I think there will ge many stop starts to my lawn letting go efforts. Will keep you posted.
    Yours in long grass

  5. Maike Fichtner says

    We also just cut where and when absolutely necessary.I am under the impression, that I cannot use this seedy grass or hay for mulching the vegie beds. Is this correct or can I use it without having to hand pull weeds for a long time?

    • Good point here and one others will be interested in. Options are to pile the ‘hay’ let it sprout and rot a bit before using, or as in my case regular hoeing keeps everything sorted.

  6. Andrea Potter says

    I have left the chicken area lawn long for the last wee while (only about 3 weeks growth, mind). There is white clover and cats ears and bees everywhere, which is great, but unfortunately my lawn is mostly Kikuyu, which just gets longer and higher if it is not trimmed. It even got to the stage where I couldn’t open my garden shed door because the kikuyu had got too high. The runners get into my vege beds too which is a pain. I guess the good thing though is that it remains green even in a dry summer when everything else in the lawn has died off.

    • Pros and cons to everything Andrea. The thing is to make it work for you – cutting tracks through and around makes a big difference. Life is better when shed doors open smoothly 🙂 Happy new year Kath

  7. I let my lawn grow for about 6 weeks during peak flowering time and enjoyed the insects coming in, have now cut it, blades very high and will again let it all flower before mowing again. A few sideways glances from neighbours, but well worth it for the soil and insect health.

    • Yay! I’m so excited by this lawn revolution and secretly love sideways glances … it means you are ahead of your time. Happy gardening Sarah!