Hello my friends and welcome to the glorious month of May. This is the time of year (at least for the western-hemisphere) when the weather starts getting warmer, days get longer and of course the grasses in our yard begin to grow. In fact, you may have already had the privilege of pulling out the ol’ lawn-mower and given the lawn a once over. However, there are several reasons why you may want to hold off for a few weeks on giving it another cut and even resist pulling out those plants that so many refer to as “weeds”.
First, let’s answer the question, “Why would anyone want to do this?” The answer is simple. To protect pollinator habitat.
Research has shown that by allowing the grass to grow out for the full month of May will help increase nectar rates in wildflowers which in turn satisfies at least 10 times more bees and other pollinators than in an environment where the lawn gets mowed every week. This is incredible news given the dismal reports that have shown a steady decline in honey bee populations since 2006 (thank you habitat loss and over use of pesticides).
This idea of “No Mow May” has been spreading across the world in an effort to support diverse wildlife populations including other pollinators such as birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, wasps, beetles, and small mammals.
Naturally, some of you may be thinking that it isn’t possible to allow your grass to get that high, especially if you live in a development with strict ordinances that mandate you to keep your yard tidy. Well you may find some solace in knowing that you don’t even need to let your whole yard go. Even a small patch of un-mowed grass can provide additional benefits that our pollinators would normally be missing out on.
Now about those “weeds”; to a lot of people, a well manicured lawn is a symbol of pride. And don’t get me wrong, I love doing yard work. In fact I am one of those people that pushes the mower diagonally across the yard just to improve its aesthetics. The only difference is my yard is filled with wildflowers from dandelions, violets, various types of clovers, henbit and purple deadnettle in addition to the typical Kentucky Bluegrass that grows in most yards.
So why am I so proud of this? Because I know I am supporting a whole plethora of native organisms who are depending on the diversity of plants growing in my yard. Is a monoculture of Kentucky Bluegrass going to look good? Probably. But the benefits of diversity far outweigh the single desire of having your yard “looking good”.
Lastly, if you're worried that this information is getting to you too late, especially since we are already two weeks into the month of May, fear not! You can still help pollinators by taking advantage of “Let It Bloom June” or “Knee High July”. The whole point is to allow adequate time for the pollinators to do their thing before we go in and start chopping up their habitat.
So the next time you feel the nagging pressure of needing to “clean up your yard” just remember that by doing nothing you are making a world of a difference for our pollinator friends.