Aberdeenshire Council received positive feedback from communities in the area when grass cutting could not be carried out as usual last year due to Covid-19 restrictions, in its look and notable enriched biodiversity.
These were exceptional circumstances, and we recognise the importance of continued maintenance of greenspaces for all the value they bring, however it demonstrated that our current maintenance regime could be improved significantly for greater diversity of plants and wildlife, and greater resilience to reduced operational capacity.
We have identified the following options for amended maintenance to trial at various sites across Aberdeenshire:
Wildflower Meadow Creation – This requires preparing the ground through spraying herbicide to kill existing vegetation, rotavating to turn the soil and expose bare earth, ready for seeding with wildflower mix. Maintenance will involve cutting and collection of arisings every 6-8 weeks for the first summer. From the following year, there will be either a spring cut, a summer cut and an autumn cut, scheduled to ensure wildflowers have time to set seed.
Reduced Grass Cutting – There will be paths and edges maintained at current standards, but the highlighted areas will be cut only up to three times a year. This will allow a diverse mix of species to flower and set seed, which supports insects, birds and small mammals with food and habitat. Arisings will be collected where possible, reducing the grass growth and cutting requirement over time.
Trees, Hedges and Shrubs – This will require weeding and pruning to ensure it looks tidy and grows well. Planting will support and attract a diversity of birds, wildlife and pollinator species. Cutting around this vegetation will continue until species are established.
Bulbs – Planting a variety of bulbs to flower at different times of the year will support many pollinator species as the seasons change. Depending on the variety of bulbs planted and the location, grass cutting can be reduced to less than three times a year
The Landscape Services will plant 25 heritage Scottish apple trees but would welcome anyone to get involved with planting or fruit harvesting in the coming years.
From Aberdeenshire Council Landscape Services