Grass Management 2021
Our meadow grass areas will be cut during September and October. The process will be a two-stage operation where the grass will be cut by our tractor and flail followed by the cuttings being collected from site in the following days.
Our maintenance teams cut around 4 million square metres of grass every month. They are operating in the same way that they have done previously - there has been no reduction in the number of cuts scheduled for the year.
The problem that we are experiencing at the moment is that following the recent spate of very wet and then very warm, weather, the growth rate is exceeding normal levels. Despite our best efforts the grass, shrubs and hedges are growing extremely quickly and the teams are struggling to keep up with the amount of growth that we are currently experiencing.
In other summers, the weather is generally pretty dry around this time and the grass growth will be much slower, sometimes almost stopping in periods of extreme heat and drought. In recent weeks it has been very wet and warm which are perfect conditions for all plants to grow quickly.
In a standard summer, the non-meadow grass would be shorter and the town (including the areas adjacent to the meadow managed areas), would look much tidier.
Additional resource was put into the grass cutting at the beginning of the season, as it is usually in the spring that we experience the quickest growth spurt for grass. However, the further resources are being drawn from other grounds maintenance teams to enable additional staff to be allocated to the grass cutting from this week.
Rewilding / Meadow Managed Grassland
Over the past 10 years, we have been working to protect existing wildlife habitats and to create new habitats. This programme of works has included the development of meadow grassland management to some of our verges, parks and open spaces.
In 2011, we had just 2ha of grassland that we managed for wildlife. We have steadily been increasing the area of grass managed as meadow grassland (i.e. cut and cleared once a year). In the last few years, we have managed the following sites in this way:
- Six Hills Way, adjacent to Whomerley Wood
- Six Hills Way, adjacent to Ashtree Wood
- Fairlands Valley Park - large swathes in the South Field (i.e. south of Six Hills Way), a wide swathe that runs along the eastern boundary of the northern section of the park (i.e. between Six Hills Way and Chells Way)
- Symonds Green Common
- Town Centre Gardens
- Six Hills Common
- Fishers Green Common
- Poplars Meadow
- Hampson Park - adjacent to Webb Rise
- Shephalbury Park - adjacent to the Coptic Church
- Weston Road Cemetery - the extension to the north
- Sound Barrier - running parallel with the A1(M)
Weston Road Cemetery
Six Hills Way
Where we have managed grassland in this way we have seen greater numbers of pollinators. Some of the Green Space Volunteers undertake a butterfly survey of sites each year so we are able to monitor the effectiveness of our management of these areas. There is also evidence of more birds and small mammals in these areas.
Within the parks, large areas will continue to be cut regularly throughout the summer so that there is plenty of space for football, picnics, etc. Paths will be cut through the meadow grassland for people to enjoy their walks.
The above photo (recently taken at Chells Park), shows the benefit of this management regime at that particular site. Each site will be different and we will be monitoring them over the summer to determine how successful they have been, and to consider opportunities for sowing wildflower seed in the autumn/winter.
In 2021, we are adding more areas to our Meadow Grassland Management Programme.
Stevenage Direct Services
Stevenage Borough Council