Grass cutting

In response to our declaration of a climate and ecological emergency, we are trialling a number of changes to the way some green spaces across the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area are managed.

These changes will help us to develop policies and procedures that are sustainable, help tackle climate change and improve conditions for wildlife.

Grass Meadows

More grass meadows will be created by leaving some areas of open space uncut throughout the summer months. Therefore some areas of grass will not be cut and others will be cut less frequently.

The potential benefits of establishing meadows include:

  • an increase in biodiversity as meadows attract and support a range of species, including important pollinators such as bees and butterflies which have suffered widespread decline in recent years
  • carbon sequestration (the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon) as, in grassland, carbon is stored in roots and in organic matter in the soil
  • visual interest as leaving areas uncut allows flowers to bloom and grasses to grow tall, creating a variety of colours and textures.

Where necessary the edges of meadows will be cut. Informal footpaths and areas for picnics and recreation may also be cut in larger meadows. Meadows will be cut in late summer or early autumn and the clippings will be removed from the surface.

Verges and other green spaces

The cutting of some verges and other green spaces will be reduced. By starting grass cutting later in the year and reducing the frequency of cuts, plants within verges and green spaces will have the opportunity to flower, providing a valuable source of nectar to important pollinator species. Central reservations and roadside verges are not used for recreational purposes therefore the grass does not need to be cut regularly. Approaches to junctions (sight lines) will still be cut so that road users can see oncoming traffic.

If present within an area, less common plants such as bee orchids and oxeye daisies will have the chance to flower and reproduce adding interest and colour to general amenity areas. The edges of these areas will be mown to prevent any longer grass overhanging roads, cycleways and pavements. Approaches to junctions (sightlines) will be cut so that road users can see oncoming traffic. When these areas are cut the clippings may be removed or left on the surface to break down naturally.

Many verges and green spaces do not need to be maintained as short grass therefore resources can be focussed on areas that do require regular cutting or on other maintenance tasks.

Future plans to monitor and survey meadow sites will create the opportunity for residents to become involved in the trials. It will also provide important information to help shape future policies that protect and enhance our environment. Further changes to grassland management may be trialled in the future based on our continued learning and availability of resources.

Flower meadows

In addition to grass meadows, there are also a number of flower meadows around the borough. These areas provide a source of nectar for important pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The areas also produce colourful displays of flowers during the summer months and are situated at prominent locations throughout the borough.

Grass maintenance

Poole has over 300 hectares of grassland to maintain in parks, sports pitches, housing estates, cemeteries and roadside verges. That's equivalent to 420 Wembley-sized football pitches. Additionally there is around 60 kilometres of path edging to manage.

General grass cutting is the largest element of all our grounds maintenance work.

Cutting the grass on cyclical rounds during the cutting season. This can be as early as February if the weather is good. Cutting is reduced during drought periods and will not take place during, or immediately after, periods of heavy rainfall. Reasonable attempts will be made to:

  • clear cuttings from paths
  • clear litter when on cutting visit
  • repair minor damage; for example vehicle ruts

As well as general grass cutting they also maintain the following:

  • high speed roads such as dual carriageways. Cutting happens four times a year and can require additional traffic management and mobile traffic works
  • high Amenity Grass. Includes roundabouts with ornamental bedding or shrub displays and ornamental parks; for example Poole Park
  • fine turf. Limited to the putting greens and lawns surrounding floral displays (Poole Park only)
  • rough grass. Includes banks, sloping areas, grass tracks, informal paths and other miscellaneous areas, which cannot be managed as general grass
  • wildflower areas/nature conservation areas. These receive one cut each year, usually in late summer/early autumn once grasses and wildflowers have set seed
  • edging of paths, pavements and residential roads may take place during the winter when grass cutting is not required. Not all paths are edged every year

To keep our costs to a minimum (and to help protect the environment), we do not collect grass cuttings or systematically spray weeds. (Weed spraying may only occur on sports pitches and fine turf areas).

Our grass meadow sites are continuing this year following consultation with ward councillors and positive feedback from the public. Sites may change in future years based on our continued learning and management of sites.

Page last updated: 12 May 2021
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