Grass Maintenance

Orchid growing in grassland

The Council maintains over 550 hectares of parks and greenspaces in the borough which includes large areas of grass.

We have three teams of staff mowing grass in Padiham, South & West Burnley and North & East Burnley and the grass is cut between April and October. The frequency and standard of mowing varies according to the type and use of the grass, which is explained below.

Highway verges

The Council maintains 13 hectares of highway verges within the urban areas of the borough on behalf of Lancashire County Council. These are normally cut on a two-week cycle between April and October mainly using pedestrian rotary mowers or ride-on rotary mowers. If the grass becomes long between cuts or is wet, grass cuttings may be left on the surface which can be unattractive but soon disappears.

In wet weather grass can become stuck on mowers and drop off whilst driving between grass areas. Staff will endeavor to remove grass from paved surface using a blower. The grass cuttings are not removed.

The Council is not responsible for the mowing of verges in rural parts of the borough and enquiries should be directed to Lancashire County Council.

Housing Estates

Most of the grass within social housing estates, except highway verges, is maintained by Calico Homes and any enquiries should be directed to Calico Homes.

Amenity grass areas

Amenity grass areas are areas of grass in small areas of public open space that may be used for recreational activities or may be important for visual amenity. These are normally cut every two weeks using either pedestrian or ride-on rotary mowers and the grass is not collected. The cut grass can appear untidy if is cut when it is long or very wet, but the dead grass lying untidily on the surface soon disappears.

Where amenity grass is not used for active recreation, it may be maintained as low-mow meadows (see below).

Sports pitches

Sports pitches include bowling greens, golf courses, and grass pitches. The frequency of cutting depends on the sport that is played and the time of year and can be as much as 3 times per week in the case of golf greens or as little as once every two weeks for football pitches.

Ornamental lawns in formal parks

Ornamental lawns in parks are cut on a regular frequency normally every two weeks and special mowers with cylinders or flails may be used to produce a striped cut. The grass is not collected.

‘Low-mow’ Meadow Management

The Council is increasing the areas of grass that are maintained as ‘low-mow’ meadows, which means that they are normally cut twice per year in June and September, with the grass being allowed to grow long between these cuts. We continue to mow the edges of these meadow areas to prevent grass encroaching on paths.

When the grass is mown, this is done with an out-front flail mower which cuts the grass finely and leaves it on the surface. This can look a mess for a short while until fresh grass grows through.

On some sites we collect the mown grass. The reason for doing this is that over a period of years, the removal of grass cuttings lowers the fertility, and this encourages more interesting wildflowers to grow.

Annual cut wildflower meadows

Some larger meadow areas in parks such as Towneley & Bank Hall are cut annually by an agricultural contractor and the hay crop is baled and removed. These sites are normally mown by mid-July and then left uncut until the end of the summer. Removing the hay crop helps to reduce fertility and this increases the number of wildflower species.  

Areas that are maintained as low-mow and annual cut meadows include:

  • Amenity grass areas that are not suitable for active recreation, such as ball games
  • Larger grass verges on highways
  • Slopes and banks
  • Perimeters of formal parks and playing fields
  • Large areas of grassland in semi-natural open spaces such as Brun Valley Forest Park and Towneley

Why do we maintain areas of grass as meadows?

Reducing the frequency of mowing has a number of important benefits:

Reducing CO2 Emissions

The Council has committed to making the borough carbon neutral by 2030. Mowing grass using petrol and diesel powered mowers produces CO2 emissions and the Council’s Climate Change Strategy identifies that the Council will increase the areas covered by meadows and semi natural environments to reduce the need for grass cutting and thereby reduce CO2 emissions.

Saving Money

In recent years, the Council has had to make significant financial savings as funding from central government has been cut. This means that we have had to make difficult choices about how we maintain our parks and greenspaces. One area that we have been able to reduce costs is by reducing frequency of grass cutting.

Over the next few years further savings need to be made and we have to absorb the increasing costs of machinery, labour and fuel. The increase in fuel costs have been exacerbated by new legislation that prevents the Council from using red diesel, which has a lower fuel duty. Consequently our fuel costs have risen by more than 200% since 2020. The only way to absorb these increased costs is to reduce the amount of of grass cut by extending meadow management.

Increasing bio-diversity

Burnley’s green spaces provide valuable wildlife habitat. Reducing mowing frequency  allows grassland plants such as Dandelions and Buttercups and Clover to flower and this can create a significant benefit to bees, butterflies and other insects and boost bird populations. The public benefit from seeing

Complaints/Problems

If you wish to make a complaint about grass mowing please visit the Council’s complaints page . If you would like to make any comments or observations, please email greenspaces@burnley.gov.uk