To support biodiversity, we have created diverse grassland habitats in many of our green spaces. Pittville Park, Benhall Open Space, and Springfields Park are just a few where extensive natural grassland is supporting bird species where they hadn't previously existed. Sometimes it's as simple as allowing grass to grow long which gives valuable pollinating insect populations a chance to grow.
Last year we made a commitment to reduce the amount of weed spraying by at least half to protect the insects and bees and support our environment, and that is just what we're doing. We will begin to weed spray targeted areas across the town from week beginning 14 June. We'll start in the town centre, moving on to Lansdown, the Park, St Paul's, Springbank, Swindon Village and the rest of the borough over the next 6 weeks or so. You'll notice the weeds dying off after a week or so. We will only be doing one weed spray to targeted areas this year, not two sprays. We are also talking to Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to look at an insecticide free town moving forward.
Since January this year, Ubico, the council’s environmental services provider, has been tidying up the worst of the weeds across the town by using our new weed ripper which avoids the amount of weed spraying we have to do. Most recently the weed ripper has been in the Warden Hill and Hatherley area. The weed ripper is a very effective tool we can use to control weeds, although there are other things we're doing to reduce the amount of weed spraying needed. During 2020 a lot of effort was put into a trial of various different methods of weed control to avoid weed spraying and we are still trying to find the most envrionmentally friendly method.
Since Christmas, Ubico have also used a small mechanical sweeper with a special weed ripper arm attached to it to remove weeds in roads and on pavements in some areas – you may have seen it in parts of Priors Park, Whaddon, All Saints, Hatherley, Warden Hill and the town centre.
To reduce weed growth in gullies on roads, Ubico has continued to sweep the roads with the mechanical road sweepers which not only gets rid of dirt and debris on the edge of roads but also stops germination of more weeds.
From the end of June you will notice the Ubico strimming crew out and about tidying up the weeds and long grass around street furniture such as roads signs. They will be starting in the town centre and moving out of town along Lansdown Road and London Road and into Charlton Kings, Leckhampton, Shurdington and Warden Hill before moving on to the rest of the borough. The crew has already been out strimming in Priors Park and Windridge.
Areas of long grass on highway verges will be cut down by the end of June but any areas of wildflower planting may be left longer as this is part of our management plan. Those areas of grass where you see daffodils growing in the spring are left until the end of June before the grass is cut down to help produce a good display of flowers the following spring.
Ground flailing (cutting) the large stretches of grass verges on semi-rural roads will be starting at the end of June too and this will be repeated in October. Hedge cutting across the town will start, after the bird nesting season, at the end of July.