Chestnut Elm Estate

Summer Meadow Initiated 2022

Estate Lawn

For several years residents facing the 11,000sqm lawn have struggled to fund its maintenance. With only 40 homes overlooking the area it is not viable to raise enough funds to cut such a huge area. 


Lack of funding came to a head in July when the grass had gone uncut and was beyond the ability of the local grass contractor's machinery to cut. Our intervention gained support from the Council to remove 25 bales. Since then the lawn cutting has been infrequent, which is great for biodiversity, and the Council cuts and maintains a 2m perimeter strip along the main road. 

We proposed that large sections are dedicated as a summer meadow but we could not accommodate the entire lawn due to the excessive amount of grass cutting required and the subsequent composting space needed.

Residents continued to infrequently cut the grass over the following years.

2022 Plan

After continuing and struggling to maintain the site for a few further years it has been agreed to pilot three small strips of summer meadow. This will establish if 500 sqm can be maintained alongside the road and will coincide with the Council's grass cutting strip and protect our 2022 tree planting.

The site would be enlarged in future years subject to affording to hire mechanical means to cut and clear and also finding an outlet for the grass cuttings.

Potential Summer Meadow Strips

2022 Review

It's amazing to see what people get used to. 'No Mow May' set the scene with a sea of spring flowers covering the 13,000sqm lawn. 

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The earlier tree planting formed the corridor but the hot dry summer didn't produce as much grass growth in the meadow as we expected. Three runs were made with the mower around the site perimeter during the season and together with aggressive weed seed removal we presented the site as a managed area. The tall grass falling over in late July meant that autumn hand cutting with a scythe was particularly slow and difficult. 2 of the 3 banks of meadow were later cut and cleared by mower. Late September sowing with yellow rattle seeds will hopefully see flowers appear next year.

April 17th

A sea of dandelions fills the lawns along north Metges Road. 

Johnstown Tidy Towns is encouraging those who manage estate lawns to refrain from having them cut until late April. This encourages lawn flowers such as dandelions, daisies, and cowslip, to flourish and provide food for pollinators at a time when they need it the most.

Do your part and join in #NoMowMay next month to encourage biodiversity.

May 13th

Checking Tree Ties

Since they were planted the trees along Metges Road have been buffeted by strong southwesterly winds and the tree ties sometimes come loose. 

June 3rd

Metges Road Meadow

The first signs of something being different appear on the Chestnut & Elm estate lawn in Johnstown Wood. This is the start of our pilot project to create a summer meadow.

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June 26th

Summer Meadow Weeding

Creating summer meadows that have kerb appeal means removing aggressive weeds such as dock. When the wind and rain flattern the grass these are easy to spot and remove before they drop their seeds..

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September 24th

Autumn Mowing

It's time to clear away the summer meadow long grass on Metges Rd. Cutting with a lawnmower would burn out the machine, strimmers get tangled too easily and make too much mess. The traditional scythe is however very effective and with a little practice it's fairly quick and reasonably simple to use.

The clearing has begun and is expected to take a few weeks to complete. The grass cuttings will be taken for composting locally before yellow rattle seeds are sown.

Plan for 2023

We will include this area in our Biodiversity Plan 2023 and await feedback before proceeding with any new actions.

Going forward the plan is to repeat the process and engage the grass contractor to remove the grass by machine.

2023 Review

April 15th

Early April

A much larger sea of dandelions appear year on year to feed the early emerging pollinators.

Late April

The grass contractor made an appearance before we could intervene and the entire lawn was cut, but thankfully not too short.

One foot tall grasses, occasional weeds, and early sighting of yellow rattle. May 25th


We saw encouraging signs of the yellow rattle wildflowers that were sown last autumn. In one 40sqm bed they were evenly spread out whilst in the 2 other similar sized beds they were sown in a dozen 2m dia circles closest to the road for high visibility.

Yellow rattle, May 25th
1m wide, May 25th, 2023

Late May Disaster!

A misunderstanding of the scale of our project has resulted in our summer meadow shrinking into a narrow verge.

Despite 500sqm of yellow rattle seeds appearing and coming into flower we'll need to reseed in autumn to get nature's lawnmower to take hold.

10m wide in June 2022
September 13th


The North Metges Road Summer meadow was cut down with the help of the grass contractor and volunteers finishing off with a scythe. 

After 'drying' for a few days the cuttings will be cleared and grass cut again to further lower it in preparation for yellow rattle seed sowing.


Further Information on summer meadows can be found here 

Sustainable Development Goals

This project has connections with the following categories: