On Radio 4's 'Today' programme this morning Colin Crosbie, Curator of RHS Garden Wisley, said that although the space given over to lawns in private gardens is decreasing the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) believes that dedicated areas for grass are important.
A recent report from the charity, Garden Matters: Urban Greening, shows that 85 per cent of the UK population is living in an urban area. With house builders using smaller plots for each house they build and the increase in apartment blocks there are less and less green square metres available to everyone.
Lawns are important both for recreational and environmental reasons. Green spaces are good for mental health and lawns and flower beds help absorb rainfall and thus reduce the potential of drains being flooded.
"Lawns are an important part of the garden," said Colin on the programme this morning. "We need them to be able to sit somewhere and enjoy our flowers and barbeques. And they needn't be as high maintenance as people think. We are concerned with the trend to pave over lawns. We need to look at this development very carefully."
The RHS recognises that the poor management of lawns may have negative environmental impacts. "Gardeners need to move away from the focus of keeping lawns green during periods of drought," says Colin. "Watering lawns can take up large amounts of water which gardeners have to be careful of. There is actually no harm in letting your lawn dry up. The grass will go brown but soon greens up after a good rain shower."
A mix of lawns and flower beds in the garden is another way to encourage biodiversity. Some birds for example, such as blackbirds and starlings, prefer open spaces to look for worms and insects. There are insects that find grass areas an ideal environment especially when the grass is allowed to grow taller and is mixed with meadow wildflowers.
"We mustn't lose our lawns," says Colin Crosbie. "But we also need to recognise that in the future there will be less space dedicated to this fantastic garden plant so we need to be clever in how we use grass to get maximum impact. Maybe planting a green roof on the garden shed with a mix of grass for example. Grass is good."