Thanks to Southview Garden Center for their support.
Now you’ve got an official excuse to put off mowing the lawn. West St. Paul is joining the No Mow May project, an effort to protect pollinators by not mowing lawns for the month of May.
“Taking a month off of mowing and cleaning your lawn gives bees and other important species more time to emerge from their winter hibernation,” said State Representative Rick Hansen in a recent update. “Unmowed lawns can support hundreds and even thousands of bees per day!”
City on Board
The West St. Paul City Council discussed No Mow May at their recent City Council meeting and explored how they could participate in the program on short notice. They wanted to emphasize education and minimize staff time spent on complaints. The hope is this voluntary effort will protect pollinators and educate residents about environmentally friendly lawn care.
The city will relax enforcement of the usual eight-inch height limit for grass. There is signage available to help educate your neighbors (though be aware that the sign ordinance limits residential yards to one sign). The city says enforcement will begin on June 1, so be prepared to mow at the end of May. A month’s worth of grass can also overwhelm most residential lawn mowers, so plan accordingly. Some of might need to go with Intermittent Mow May.
The Environmental Committee will be discussing No Mow May at their May 5 meeting and giving recommendations to the City Council for a resolution supporting No Mow May, which the Council is expected to pass at their May 10 City Council meeting.
Research on Mowing and Pollinators
Appleton, Wisc., participated in 2020 with 435 households registered in No Mow May. Researchers from Lawrence University tracked the progress of the No Mow May households compared to nearby urban parks that were regularly mowed. No Mow May yards had five times as many bees and three times the bee species diversity. You can read the full study online.
Another study conducted by a research ecologist explored lawn mowing frequency—comparing weekly, every other week, and every three weeks—and found that bees were most plentiful with every other week mowing. Mowing every three weeks resulted in greater diversity and more flowers, but not as many bees.
Tips to Be More Effective
According to Bee City USA, you can make No Mow May more effective at preserving pollinator habitat by planting more flowering species in your lawn. They recommend Dutch clover and low-growing flowering plants such as creeping thyme, self-heal, and native violets.
You can also reduce the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides. Another approach is to actually reduce the amount of lawn. You can create pollinator gardens and minimize the swath of lawn that’s mowed grass with little biodiversity.
Local news with no paywalls happens thanks to your support.