Increasing biodiversity in grass verges
The network of grass verges in Surrey stretches alongside 3,000 miles of rural and urban roads, providing a significant opportunity to increase plant and insect biodiversity through the way that these are managed.
In 2019, Surrey County Council committed to review and reduce the frequency of cutting highway verges across the county, wherever safe and desirable to do so. In some district and borough areas this is the responsibility of local councils to implement.
Reducing the number of grass cuts each year can allow native plant species to thrive, and in some areas additional steps can be taken to prepare the ground, sow native wildflower seeds and more proactively encourage their growth.
Local residents and communities can play a key role in this effort by:
- Raising awareness locally of the benefits of reduced cuts.
- Planting blue hearts in grass verges, following the steps detailed below.
- Raking and removing grass cuttings after the annual cut, where safe to do so.
- Removing any litter that collects in the longer grass, again where safe to do so.
- Rewilding areas of their own gardens and other green spaces.
The Blue Campaign
Surrey County Council supports the Blue Campaign, in which residents are encouraged to:
- Identify suitable grass verges near where they live.
- Gain local resident support to rewild this area.
- Contact us to ensure this verge is suitable for being left uncut
- Select 'Any other grass issue' as the form option
- Pinpoint the specific verge or green area on the map
- Use the text box within the form to add any specific comments and let us know if you have gained local community support
- Make or purchase a blue heart to plant in the verge.
Surrey County Council will record the Blue Heart location and notify the district or borough Council or relevant contractor. The grass-cutting team who manages this verge will then bypass this area on their route, or if a partial cut is needed for safety or access reasons will cut the sightlines, or may reduce the cut to only a 1m strip along the road or pavement. All verges, including Blue Heart locations, will have one full-width cut each Autumn.
Pages 45-47 of Surrey's New Tree Strategy (PDF) provide more detail on the steps above, and on our existing approach in collaboration with district and borough councils.
For more local information and support for residents on rewilding and wild flowering, please contact Surrey's Wildflowering Project.
Files available to download
- Surrey's new tree strategy 2020 (PDF)
Surrey’s New Tree Strategy sets out how the Council will meet its target to facilitate the planting of 1.2 million new trees by 2030.