No Mow May

It’s #NoMowMay, a month during which people are encouraged to let their lawns go wild. The goal is to provide springtime pollen and nectar sources for bees, butterflies, moths and other pollinators awakening from winter hibernation or migrating north.

In the UK, where No Mow May was first launched, the project has had an incredible impact:

  • An unmoved lawn of just 1100 square feet can produce enough pollen for six mining bee brood cells and enough nectar to feed six bumblebees per day;
  • Citizen scientists participating in the project recorded over 250 plant species and 465,000 individual flowers in previously mowed lawns
  • Surveyors recorded almost 100 species of pollinators on participants’ lawns

In Appleton, Wisconsin, an effort modeled on the UK project had similar results: on average, participating yards had more than three times the number of bee species and five time more individual bees than nearby mowed public parks.

While critics of #NoMowMay cite the effort can negatively impact healthy turf and note that lawns treated with chemicals may have no benefit at all to insects, the efforts described above show the positive impact of local activism.

According to one of my favorite scientists, Dr. Doug Tallamy, the United States has converted over 62,500 square miles to lawn. He notes, “The four ecological functions that all landscapes need to perform are: 1) support a diverse and complex food web; 2) manage local watersheds; 3) move carbon from the atmosphere to the soil; and, 4) provide food and housing for as many species of native bees as possible. Lawn does none of these things well, so reducing the area we have in turf grass is a logical first step. But plants vary a great deal in how well they achieve ecological goals, so we must choose very carefully the plants we use to replace lawn.”

Dr. Tallamy also notes that to help the climate, it’s important to include more than just flowers: shrubs and trees absorb and store more carbon. This is “a brand new way for people to look at the role of their yards.”

So, if #NoMowMay leaves you wary or at risk of violating local weed ordinances, why not shrink your lawn instead? Convert a portion of your lawn to a native plant bed and help increase floral richness while providing nectar sources for our native pollinators. As Dr. Tallamy likes to say, it may just free some of your weekend hours!

Stop by our store and let us help you select plants to #NurtureNative.

Hope to see you soon!