TEST Valley Borough Council has announced that it will be relaxing its current grass-cutting schedules.

The grass in several sites across the borough will be left to grow long between May and September with the aim of creating urban meadows.

These are more wildlife-friendly and provide a longer season of nectar for pollinators.

The council has been increasing the amount of urban meadows it creates each year since 2021.

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This year, it will be letting a total of 44 hectares in Andover, Romsey and Valley Park grow wilder - more than 82 football fields of grass that will be left unmown until September when it will be cut and collected.

This approach will reduce the number of visits for mowing and allow grasses and plants to develop, providing valuable habitat for insects and birds.

The sites are typically on the edges of open spaces and verges so as not to impact on activities like dog walking or on recreation space.

Andover Advertiser: Romsey MeadowscapeRomsey Meadowscape (Image: Test Valley Borough Council)

Some sites, like the North Churchyard at Romsey Abbey, have been planted with meadowscape wildflower mix to boost their diversity and ecological value.

Council staff will monitor each of the sites over the summer and make a record of any notable plant species. Anyone who would like to help with monitoring local wildlife can get in touch through the Council’s Citizen Science programme on CitizenScience@testvalley.gov.uk

Members of the public can also help out by putting the mower away and taking part in Plantlife’s No Mow May, a movement which encourages everyone in the UK to rewild their lawns and let wild plants get a head start on the summer.

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Cllr Terese Swain, portfolio holder for community and leisure, said: “By letting the grass in your garden grow wild for just one month, you can help support biodiversity and create a haven for pollinators like bees and butterflies.

“As a council, our commitment to creating increasing amounts of urban meadows each year supports pollinators at the time they are most active. We do need to keep cutting quite a number of verges for safety reasons but our longer-term plan will see a much larger area of urban meadow created across the borough.”

Maps showing the sites to be left unmown can be found on the Test Valley Borough Council website.