A ready-made sports pitch, a blank canvas for the youthful imagination, a space filler or the best place to soak up the long rays of summertime – our lawns are often the central hub of our garden.

A traditional closely-mown and well-kept lawn often takes pride of place and instils a sense of competition among neighbours. But that’s a lot of maintenance to look good year-round, including mowing, watering and feeding – and lawns aren’t always as beneficial to the wildlife in our gardens as they could be.

Lawns, while central to many garden designs, are also often overlooked as important ecosystems that can give wildlife a home and help to mitigate the impact of our changing climate, including drought and higher rainfall.

Beginning this month, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) are calling on gardeners to reimagine their lawns this summer with the launch of a ‘Bring your lawn to life’ initiative.

Get up close and personal with your lawn this year, discover what can be found in your swathes of green and dabble with a few simple and easy changes to your lawn management. Even the smallest changes could make an enormous difference for your local wildlife – and give you a rest from mowing!

1. Reduce the frequency of mowing to once every three to four weeks to allow flowers such as dandelion and speedwell to bloom and help pollinators.

Our pollinators are struggling with the effects of climate change; eight bumblebee species are currently at risk of extinction, and our population of small tortoiseshell butterflies has collapsed by 75 per cent since the 1970s. They need all the help (and food) they can get!

2. Keep some areas short as pathways, sunbathing spots, and foraging areas for worm-eating birds. For the rest, let the grass grow a little longer, offering shelter to grasshoppers and other insects. In turn, these creatures are food for frogs, birds, and bats.

Lawns left to grow long are also shown to help mitigate flooding by better soaking up rainwater, cool down urban areas, and capture pollutants. They are also better at resisting browning during dry spells than short grass owing to their longer roots.

3. Allow parts of your lawn to grow long for the whole summer so that caterpillars can feed and transform into butterflies and moths. Join the thousands of people across the UK taking part in no-mow May.

You could even consider turning parts of your lawn into wildflower meadows – as well as adding a mass of beautiful seasonal colour to your patch, you will reduce how much of your lawn you have to mow! 97 per cent of UK wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930s, removing huge swathes of vital pollinator-friendly plants.

4. Turn a blind eye to the odd bare patch within a lawn as these provide sites for ground nesting bees. 90 per cent of the UK’s bee population is solitary, rather than living in a hive.

5. If you do want a luscious green carpet, consider growing hardy yarrow within your lawn or, where there is limited footfall, experiment with a tapestry lawn and grow herbs and flowers such as chamomile and creeping thyme.

6. When you do mow, make sure to reuse the clippings. You can either put them on your compost heap or leave them to dry out, before storing them in a dry corner of the garden. You may encourage a queen bumblebee to start a colony there or provide shelter for a slow worm.

Jack Wallington, Yorkshire-based wildlife gardener, designer and author of A Greener Life, said: “Wilder lawns are probably the most sustainable usable surface people can create because they absorb carbon as they grow and provide rich habitat for low grassland species such as ground nesting insects and foraging for hungry birds looking for a juicy worm or beetle.

“I’ve found cutting on a higher setting about every three weeks saves effort and makes grass softer and more colourful with an abundance of lawn wildflowers.”

For more information on the benefits of lawns in gardens, download a copy of the ‘Bring your lawn to life’ guide on the Wild About Gardens website wildaboutgardens.org.uk.

York-based gardeners looking to make a difference in their garden can also apply for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s wildlife gardening award. The award recognises the hard work that Yorkshire’s gardeners already put in to keep Yorkshire wild, whilst encouraging people to do as much as they can.

The award has been designed so that anyone can take part no matter how much space they have. Join private gardens, allotments, community gardens, school grounds or business premises all taking part across Yorkshire!

Find out more from ywt.org.uk/Wildlife-Gardening-Award/