Wilder Verges

Brighton & Hove Wilder Verges project is piloting wildlife grass management for biodiversity across the city.

a shorter grass verge with some wild flowers

A road verge with wild flowers credit Kim Greaves



Brighton & Hove Wilder Verges project trialled improved management for wildlife and biodiversity benefits at 25 verge sites across the city of Brighton & Hove.

The pilot has helped biodiversity by allowing plants to flower, complete their lifecycle, set-seed and provide connectivity, food and shelter for insects and wildlife including insect-eating birds such as starlings. Read the project report [PDF 3MB] for more detail of the findings.

Brighton & Hove City Council worked with Brighton & Hove’s Wildlife Forum and volunteers from across the city to deliver the project, the aim of which was to monitor how changing the management of amenity grassland such as verges benefits urban nature.  Natural England provided funding for the project as part of their work to explore the potential of urban nature recovery networks in England.

Improved management on these sites will mean the verges are left unmown through the main flowering season – which is usually between March / April and August / September – to allow plants to grow to maturity and flower.


The Wilder Verges project has worked with volunteers to undertake baseline ecological surveying of some key grass verges and areas around the city, which have been identified as having  good potential to increase biodiversity & habitat connectivity in the city.

Diverse plant life is essential for wildlife to thrive. Verges provide perfect areas of unused land which – when left to grow and flower – provide havens and corridors for nature, linking up open spaces, parks and gardens throughout the city like green lungs.

Verges managed for wildlife provide a boost for biodiversity, providing much needed food, nectar, pollen, and shelter for a variety of insects, spiders, worms and molluscs which in turn support wildlife higher up the food chain such as mammals and birds.

Long flowering grasses alone can provide valuable habitat which supports insects and which in turn benefits other animals as part of the bigger, connected food web.

Many butterflies and moths lay their eggs or have caterpillars that rely on grasses as food. Birds, such as the city’s iconic starlings, feed on insects for their diet.

The project will be working with local residents to raise awareness of how important our urban verges are for wildlife and will be monitoring the verges to learn how changes to mowing frequencies and timings impact our urban nature.



insect and caterpillar on a road verge

An insect and caterpillar on a road verge credit Kim Greaves

Project objectives

  1. To learn from partner organisations with expertise in reduced mowing regimes
  2. To engage local communities in acting for urban biodiversity
  3. To learn what role verge management can play in supporting urban nature to inform potential future management of amenity grassland across the city

What’s been achieved?

  • 25 verge sites have been identified and baseline surveyed with the help of volunteers
  • the Council have agreed to trial a reduced mowing regime at the pilot sites
  • communications materials have been designed ready to work with the local communities to support their local verges and wildlife

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