“You can encourage flower-rich verges and ensure visible management.
The key to realising this lies in ‘cut and collect’ whereby highways authorities remove the grass cuttings from the site.”
One thing that could be done to increase local biodiversity would be to allow roadside verges to grow a little – which has been happening by default over the last few weeks:
The campaign group Plantlife has just initiated a call to councils:
Urban road verges: how to please everyone…
Social media is buzzing with talk about road verges… From the dazzling spectacle of a planted town centre roundabout in Musselburgh enjoyed by Chris Packham, to the shock of a bright green plastic ‘road verge’ at a junction in Newcastle, it’s great to see so much passionate attention is on our verges.
Looking after urban verges and green space can be challenging. When councils attempt to implement changes to cutting regimes to make them more wildflower and wildlife-friendly, they often receive a flood of complaints that the grass is scruffy and unkempt, resulting in neighbourhoods looking abandoned and concerns about increased littering.
The good news is that you can encourage flower-rich verges and ensure visible management. Here are our top tips:
A buzz cut for biodiversity
The vast majority of amenity grassland and urban verges may have little biodiversity value, but they have significant potential. The key to realising this lies in ‘cut and collect’ whereby highways authorities remove the grass cuttings from the site. Why? Because it reduces the fertility of the soil; wild flowers thrive in poor soils. Collecting the thatch of decaying grass removes nutrients and, over time, allows more wild flowers to thrive and less vigorous grass to dominate. Here’s the thing: verges don’t have to be long to be wildlife-friendly…
We hope this summer continues to spark many conversations and look forward to working with councils across the UK to improve verge management. For more information on managing grassland road verges – in town or countryside – have a look at our management guidelines published last year in partnership with governments, contractors and fellow conservation organisations.
Here are a couple of stories from the last couple of days from councils across the country:
Meanwhile, in the Sid Valley, the Town Council has taken over responsibility for roadside verges from the County Council:
photo: Trevor Dines, Plantlife