No Mow May is an international movement to delay lawn mowing until June 1, so that insects, especially native bees, get a chance to feed on early spring flowers in lawns before the first mowing. While it is not a panacea, it allows ground nesting bees and other insects to emerge from their winter sleep and find some food before people start tidying up.
People sometimes object to No Mow May saying the biggest beneficiaries are non-native dandelions that tend to pop up in lawns when they aren’t mowed. While it is true that your dandelions may annoy your neighbors, they are not harmful and are usually only present in unnatural habitats like lawns and other disturbed areas. They do not threaten our native flora in the wild. You can, of course, get rid of your dandelions by digging them up with a dibble stick, or chopping them off at ground level with a stirrup hoe every time they emerge. After a season or two, they will no longer be a problem.
No Mow May, taken in conjunction with eliminating invasive and exotic species in your yard, planting native grasses and flowers, and letting naturally occurring native violets and other spring ephemerals bloom and go to seed before mowing, can go a long way toward reducing the detrimental impact of lawns on wildlife. An un-mowed lawn with a sprinkling of flowers can help bees survive the early days of spring before most of their host flowers are in bloom.
Sweat bee on dandelion
No Mow May is also a useful educational tool and reminder that bees and other pollinators need our intervention to protect them from rampant habitat destruction and overuse of lawn care chemicals, especially pesticides, to create perfect turfgrass. Perfect turfgrass is an ecological desert and bad for wildlife, like birds, bees, and butterflies. No Mow May aims to alert people to the high environmental cost of verdant green carpet-like lawns. It also aims to allow us to shift to a different aesthetic more informed by nature.
We hope that you will participate in No Mow May and try to think about the impact of mowing on wildlife. For the second year in a row, we have No Mow May lawn signs that can be picked up in Saratoga Springs or Stillwater and placed in your yard to start a conversation with your neighbors about why you are choosing not to mow. We ask for a $10 donation to cover the cost of the signs.
Email email@example.com to request your sign.
See our Pollinator pages for resources about pollinators and native plants
Get native plants to feed your pollinators at our Pollinator Palooza Native Plant Sale on June 4, 2023