Wildflowers on their way to Hertfordshire's roadsides

Published: 26 Nov 2019


Roadside verges could become home to wildflowers and the pollinators that feed on them, after Hertfordshire County Council agreed to test a new approach to grass cutting along the county’s roads.

Around 70 roadside verges in rural areas will be cut in a different way to encourage the growth of wildflowers. These areas will be cut only once a year, between mid-July and mid-August, with the grass cuttings removed. This will allow for the growth, flowering and seeding of wildflowers, as well as preventing the verges from being dominated by more aggressive plant species. This will provide an ideal habitat for bees and other pollinating insects.

Mark Kemp, Director of Environment and Infrastructure, said: “Everyone has heard about the sharp decline in bees and pollinating insects over recent decades and like most people we’re alarmed by this. We’re determined to protect and improve Hertfordshire’s natural environment and this fairly simple change to how we cut roadside grass will help increase the habitats and food that our pollinating insects rely on. ”

The new approach to grass cutting will start in 2020, although it will take at least two years before the first wildflowers appear. Some verges may appear overgrown or unmaintained in the first year, but this a natural part of the new habitat establishing itself.

This new approach will contribute to the Sustainable Hertfordshire strategy - the county council’s ambitious programme to improve sustainability in the county.

The verges that will be cut in this way have been identified using wildlife and ecology data. They are mostly areas that have a medium to high quality of vegetation and diversity of species, and so are most likely to successfully establish themselves as wildflower habitats.

For safety reasons, verges in urban areas, and around rural junctions and bends in the road, will continue to be cut in the same way as before.

The new approach will now be discussed by the county council’s Cabinet next month before being formally approved.