#NoMowMay and #Know2MowMay

Posted on Tuesday, May 7th, 2024

Written by GTI Admin

Dandelions in front of a lawnmower

The arrival of spring's fresh growth heralds the resurgence of the #NoMowMay initiative, advocating for homeowners to allow their grass to grow longer to support insect pollinators. As experts in grasses, we've been approached by both the public and media to provide our perspective. Is No Mow May a wise choice?
While we applaud the campaign for sparking dialogue about supporting beneficial insects it may be slightly misdirected. Many early-flowering weeds commonly found in lawns, like dandelions, offer incomplete nutrition for pollinators.

"We advocate for the use of native plants – trees and flowers – in yards for a lasting impact. Numerous plants bloom before dandelions and provide richer nutrition." said Andrew Holland, Nature Conservancy of Canada National Media Relations Director in a 2022 news release.

Furthermore, establishing overly long grass as temporary habitats isn't conducive to pollinators if the intention is to revert to mowing in June. Instead, consider planting pollinator-friendly flowers, grasses, and shrubs. For those passionate about supporting pollinators, creating wildflower zones in home gardens can benefit insects and wildlife year-round. However, note that these zones may attract various biodiversity, including pests like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, so it's advisable to place these "Naturalized Zones" away from children and pets. From a turfgrass perspective, participating in "No Mow May" can detrimentally affect home lawns.

"We advise mowing home lawns when the grass reaches approximately three inches in height," recommends Lyons. "Grasses have evolved to benefit from grazing by herbivores, so they respond positively to mowing practices." says Dr. Eric Lyons, Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph.

Additionally, severe grass trimming can be traumatic, depriving the grass of a sudden energy source during active growth. Moreover, tall grass is harder to mow, increasing the risk of "scalping" the turf and rendering the lawn more susceptible to insects, weeds, and disease. The widespread popularity of the #NoMowMay campaign stems from its simplicity: doing nothing supposedly aids the environment. However, conservation endeavors are seldom so straightforward. Consult your local garden center for regionally suitable plants, focusing on native species in your Hardiness Zone. Generally, planting perennials is recommended for their annual return, simplifying maintenance and reducing shipping/manufacturing inputs.

#MowWhenYourGrassNeedsMowing lacks the same catchiness, but perhaps we can advocate for #PlantNatives instead? We also propose using the tag #Know2MowMay to advocate for turf management practices that respond to your local climate and the goals for the greenspace. 

Before you choose how to manage your property, consider its intended function. If you want a garden of flowers, then you can create that. If you want a functional space for events, play, or exercise, grasses are the most resistant to wear-and-tear and foot traffic. For something in between, consider seeding a "bee lawn". 

For more information, visit the website that we have created in partnership with Landscape Ontario: lawn.science

News Archive

News Topics