Monty Don has called on gardeners, especially men, to ease off the “obsession” with a tidy lawn.
The Gardeners’ World presenter said keeping the grass in order tends to be a male trait, which is about “control”.
But the 65-year-old told Radio Times magazine that having a neat and tidy, striped lawn, free of flowers, damages wildlife and the environment.
“Cutting grass burns lots of fossil fuel, makes a filthy noise and is about the most injurious thing you can do to wildlife,” Don said.
“Whereas letting grass grow, which is, after all, a pretty passive thing to do, is probably the single most effective thing you can do in any garden of any size to encourage particularly insect life, but also small mammals, invertebrates, reptiles.”
The presenter said he is not anti-lawn, telling the magazine: “I like walking on a lawn with bare feet as much as the next person.”
But, he added: “The obsession, which tends to be male, which is controlling rather than embracing, with making a lawn that is pure grass without any filthy and foreign invading plants in there, making sure it’s stripy and neat, and – phew! – just one aspect of life that’s under control.
“That just doesn’t cut the mustard. It’s just not good enough. We’ve all got to get beyond that.”
The presenter, who is returning with another series of Gardeners’ World, also said lockdown has made people see the changes brought about by climate change more clearly.
“People are noticing that it’s a bit more flooded or it’s a bit warmer, or the little flower whose name you don’t know is flowering earlier than you remember it did five years ago,” he said.
“The net effect of that is to say, yes, this is happening in my life, on my doorstep, and in itself that’s not a big deal – but that’s the point.
“It’s all these billions of not-big-deals that are making up the biggest deal that’s ever faced mankind.”
Don has spoken openly in the past about his mental health and how gardening has helped, and told the magazine that “nature is a really effective medication”.
He said he is also more open now about his own practical failures, such as struggling to grow lamb’s lettuce.
“In the past, I wouldn’t have told you about it. I would have just kept the ones that worked and known in principle that I knew what I was doing.
“Now I’d be much more inclined to share with the camera.”
Last year, Don revealed that his beloved dog, Nigel, who became famous on Gardeners’ World, had died.
“When we’d go out filming at half-past seven in the morning he would always be ready, almost bags packed, and would work the camera,” he said of the Golden Retriever.
“People for some reason suspended disbelief and wanted him to be this special person. There was real sadness when he died. It was a sort of Diana-type sadness.”
– The full interview is in Radio Times magazine, out now.