It’s spring. Finally. While the New England spring temps are still too cold for my nature, apparently the native bees have tougher sensibilities. Or rather, their nature commands they start the busy work of building nests for their small broods despite the cold breezes that continue to blow inland from our stunning coastline.
According to Bee City USA, American lawns cover 40 million acres amounting to 2% of our land from sea to shining sea. This makes our lawns, a monoculture that provides almost no support to native wildlife, the single largest irrigated crop America grows. I almost wrote, “irritated” crop and that would not have been a faux pas because it’s not far from the truth. From the myriad resources we pour into our lawns —toxic chemicals, petroleum-fueled machinery, water, time, and money— yards become something akin to a barren wasteful wasteland. Surely that’s annoying to Mother Earth whose sweet babies —birds, bees, butterflies, and countless vital critters in our shared ecosystem— need forage and nesting sites. The wildlife so many of us admire and love are in decline as a direct result of our sterile patches of green.
What is No Mow May, You Say?
No Mow May is a movement encouraging homeowners to leave their lawns unmowed for the entire month of May, letting nature take over and allowing for a more biodiverse and sustainable environment.
Bee City, USA states:
“No Mow May was first popularized by Plantlife, an organization based in the United Kingdom, but is now gaining traction across North America. The goal of No Mow May is to pause mowing during the month of May, allowing flowers to bloom in your lawn to help early-season pollinators. Late winter and early spring is a time when floral resources are often limited.”
6 reasons why I would LUV4U to participate in No Mow May
- Promotes biodiversity: Lawns are typically composed of a single species of grass that requires frequent mowing, watering, and fertilizing. By allowing the grass to grow and other plants to thrive, No Mow May can promote biodiversity by providing habitat for a variety of insects, birds, and other wildlife. This also increases the availability of food sources for our beneficial insects (think cute fuzzy bees and butterflies). Bees need nectar and pollen, and a diverse range of plants can provide the necessary nutrients for bees to thrive.
- Reduces pollution: Lawnmowers contribute to air pollution, with emissions of nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants. Many homeowners have zero tolerance for beautiful plants like dandelions, clover, purslane, and countless other beautiful flowering plants (aka weeds) that want to take up residence in your yard. By skipping mowing for a month, homeowners can reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to cleaner air.
- Saves water: During the warmer months, lawns require significant amounts of water to stay green and healthy. By letting the grass grow and become more drought-tolerant, homeowners can conserve water and reduce their water bills. Interestingly enough, taller grass requires less water, because it creates its own shade. Keeping the soil cooler = less water!
- Saves time and money: Mowing the lawn can be a time-consuming and costly chore, especially if you hire a landscaper. By taking a break for a month, you can save time and money, and enjoy a more relaxed and low-maintenance landscape.
- Reduces exposure to pesticides: By skipping lawn care for a month, homeowners can reduce the use of pesticides and other chemicals that can be harmful to bees and other pollinators. In addition to harming bees, because they can disrupt their behavior and cause reproductive problems, pesticides are particularly damaging to human and companion animal health. I know several people who in the past utilized herbicides like Roundup and whose young pets died prematurely from lymphoma or other cancers. Need I mention how the “cides” (insecticides and pesticides) impact small children? Don’t just skip pesticides for a month, discontinue them for a lifetime. The immeasurable harm they cause is not worth a pristine (albeit sterile) lawn.
- Educates and raises awareness: No Mow May is not just about skipping lawn care for a month, it’s also an opportunity to educate and raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity, sustainability, and environmental conservation. By participating in No Mow May, you can join a movement and inspire others to make small changes that can have a big impact on the planet.
So what can you do?
Simple! Celebrate Earth Day by Kicking off No Mow May early! Put the mower away, let go of weed (aka misplaced plants) angst, and witness the divine beauty of nature! Remember fireflies? They love taller grass, and the little ones in your life will love their illuminating magic on a warm summer night. You can help bring back the fireflies (also in great decline) with No Mow May.
Write in the comments below how you plan to spend the extra time you reap while passively sowing the wild beauty that results from No Mow May!