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It Might Be Time to Reconsider No Mow May

Updated: May 5

Bug in grass

Wait, I thought No Mow May was the way to go now? 

The trendy lawn care practice of letting your grass grow out throughout the month of May and waiting to cut it until June might actually not be the best practice after new research and studies. While many have good intentions participating in No Mow May, it might actually be detrimental to local ecosystems and pollinators. 

No Mow May is said to have officially started in 2019 in the U.K., and grew in popularity quickly worldwide, especially among younger homeowners in urban and suburban areas. But after a few years of research and learning from these lawn care practices, scientists and ecologists are finding that No Mow May can be harmful to your lawn and pollinators and the entire ecosystem you’re trying to protect. Luckily, there are alternatives that you can implement in your lawn to promote sustainability and help contribute to the environment in a good way!

Why Is No Mow May Detrimental? 

Insects and pollinators have good memories, and they rely on regular spots to get their food and shelter. No Mow May establishes a secure food source for insects, which is then completely taken away once June 1 comes around. You build up a lot of trust and security among pollinators, only to confuse them and take away a secure source of food. That can have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to accomplish with No Mow May, which is to promote the presence of pollinators and establish healthy ecosystems in your yard. 

Bees, bugs, and all kinds of creatures in your area communicate with each other day to day and even year to year, telling each other where the best joints are to get some food. Pulling the rug out from underneath them come June can scare them off altogether. Additionally, growing your grass out during May can create hiding spots for snakes and rodents throughout your yard, which is definitely not what you want! Finally, growing your grass extra long at the start of the season without tending to it can encourage unwanted weeds to grow, which you then may be tempted to treat with pesticides or weed killers that could damage your lawn and the ecosystem in the long-run, totally reversing any benefits you had started to see in the first place. 

In short, participating in No Mow May can trick pollinators into thinking they have a regular source of food and shelter, until you tear it all down once June rolls around. Thankfully, there are great alternatives that can promote sustainability and help local ecosystems thrive!

Alternatives to No Mow May

If you’re following along, you may realize that when it comes to No Mow May, you almost need an all-or-nothing approach. Sure, you could theoretically let your grass grow out forever and never mow again… but you might get some weird looks or even complaints from your neighbors. And American lawns aren’t exactly ideal nesting grounds for pollinators, anyway. Instead, you could slowly replace your bluegrass with native grasses and plants. These require much less maintenance overall, including mowing!

Native grasses and plants throughout your yard are a great habitat for pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, as well as other good insects. Many homeowners throughout the St. Paul area and Western Wisconsin have ideal yards to convert into pollinator sanctuaries, but it is understandably an overwhelming thought. Instead, you may consider creating pockets or gardens of pollinator-friendly plants that promote sustainability and healthy ecosystems. 

The Best Native Flowers and Plants for Pollinators

  • Cone flowers

  • Milkweed

  • Black-eyed Susans

  • Goldenrods

  • Blazing Stars

  • Snapdragons

In addition to these plants and grasses, you can incorporate various water features throughout your yard and garden that allow for the hydration of your space and the ecosystem. Hummingbirds, bees, and insects love a good water feature with a few rocks to complement the home you’re building for them. 

Of course, keeping your grass on the longer side (3 inches tall is typically ideal for the climate we live in throughout the Eastern Twin Cities Metro and Western Wisconsin) is never a bad idea. It can promote healthier grass, plus it can further establish your yard as a sanctuary for the native wildlife. 

Create a Pollinator Sanctuary in Your Minnesota or Wisconsin Lawn

Many American lawns are made up of the same bluegrass that we traditionally mow regularly, and often are not conducive to creating thriving homes for those good bugs, bees, and other wildlife native to Minnesota. That’s why No Mow May started in the first place. While it has great intentions, the execution of the trendy lawn practice isn’t as beneficial to local pollinators as we thought. Plus, because the bluegrasses that often make up our lawns aren’t native to Minnesota in the first place, many insects aren’t going to find what they’re looking for anyway. 

So, creating pollinator pockets filled with native grasses, flowers, plants, and water features can be a great way to actually contribute to the ecosystem in your yard and help the Earth. Whether you’re looking for a total yard overhaul or just want to incorporate some new types of pollinator-friendly plants into your garden this spring and summer, the local landscaping team at SunKissed can help. We work with homeowners in Afton, Stillwater, Oakdale, Oak Park Heights, St. Paul, Hudson, and River Falls to learn about their landscaping and yard care goals, and we work together to find solutions that help you find your dream yard. 

Be a part of the solution this summer and create a sustainable, pollinator-friendly yard today!

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