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Parish Magazine God's Acre Content - March 2023

Caring for God's Acre, Churchyard, spring blossom

Time for a Spring Cut?

Do you have an area of meadow or long grass within your churchyard and perhaps your garden too? If so, March may be an excellent month to give it a cut and vigorous rake. Wildflowers and fine grasses can become swamped by coarse tougher grasses, the bruisers of the meadow world, and a spring cut can make all the difference. Cutting in spring really knocks back these coarser grasses such as Yorkshire Fog and False Oat Grass, giving other meadow grasses and flowers a chance to take up the space and receive life-giving sunlight onto their leaves. The vigorous raking will expose soil and break up mats of dead plant matter, all of which allows seeds to germinate in soil and seedlings to reach the sunshine.


But, I hear you say, what about the invertebrates which need coarse grass tussocks and hollow stems to over-winter? This is where management planning is so important; can you designate an area of coarse grass, perhaps adjacent to a wall or hedge, where you can leave it uncut for a year or two? In this way you can maintain areas for over-wintering and also manage the wildflower meadow well.


That’s all very well but I have spring bulbs. Ahh, in that case you don’t want to do a spring cut, but don’t leave areas with bulbs uncut for too long. It’s a good idea to cut a meadow after 3 or 4 months growth, never more or it starts to get overrun with coarse grasses and other plants such as hogweed. If you can’t do a spring cut because of bulbs then plan for one in early summer -  early July or even late June. This area can fill with lovely flowers in May and June and is a spring meadow.

A meadow which is cut in March or April can then be left until late July or August and fills with summer flowers such as knapweed or scabious. This is a summer meadow.

If you have a bit of both then you’ll have flowers all spring and summer long, but it can get a little complicated and it may be best to keep things simple! Have a look at our Action Pack sheet A2 Caring for Grassland ( to remind yourself of the timings.


All the best, Harriet Carty                                                                                                                         

Diocesan Churchyard Environmental Advisor,,  - individuals and groups in the diocese receive 20% members discount on all CfGA materials. Use the discount code diomem22



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