What's the Deal with No Mow March?

Kate Mitchell

April 4, 2024

What's the Deal with No Mow March?

Yellow, purple and white wildflowers surrounded by grass

No Mow May is an initiative started in the UK by an organization called Plantlife. The aim is to provide resources for pollinators by reducing the number of times homeowners mow their lawns during the springtime. Plantlife explains that their initiative is a response to the increasing loss of habitat for pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

Recently, some communities in North America have begun to adopt the practice of No Mow May. This usually means not mowing your lawn in spring until the end of May, allowing grasses and wildflowers to grow several inches tall. This helps to provide nesting habitats as well as food for pollinators.

Why Are Pollinators So Important?

Close-up of a bee, covered in pollen, inside a flower

To put it simply, pollinators are crucial to the survival of Earth's ecosystems, and to the survival of the human race. Without pollinators such as birds, bees and butterflies, 80% of our crop plants would not be able to reproduce.

Habitat loss is threatening the existence of these pollinators. Monoculture lawns contribute to this habitat loss. A research study carried out in Massachusetts in 2018 found fewer bees in lawns cut every week than in those left for a longer time between mowings. A greater diversity of bee species, as well as a higher number of bees, was found in lawns cut every two or three weeks. The greatest abundance of bees was found in lawns that were cut every two weeks.

What About No Mow March?

Purple flowers growing in the lawn outside a house

Here in North Central Florida, we see flowers in bloom all year round. Lawn flowers such as romerillo and white clover are present even in January. Pollinators such as butterflies are also present during the cooler months and are therefore able to benefit from plants in lawns early in the year.

Waiting until the end of May before we get out our lawn mowers could mean very tall grass that is difficult to get under control. Neighbors and HOAs may also object to the appearance of lawns left until the end of May. The University of Florida therefore recommends No Mow March as an alternative to No Mow May for those of us in the Sunshine State.

Drawbacks to No Mow May

Not everybody is happy to take this particular approach to lawn care. The draw of the perfect lawn can be very strong, particularly if the HOA specifies a particular grass height.

Very tall grass can be difficult to tackle in a single mowing. And, whilst some homeowners enjoy the appearance of wilder lawns, others prefer a neater look.

Some gardeners also have concerns that invasive plants may be allowed to grow in an unmowed lawn. Longer grass can also provide a habitat for less desirable garden visitors such as snakes or ticks. Whilst care can be taken to avoid these problems, there are other options for homeowners who want to help pollinators without simply leaving their grass to grow long.

Other Ways to Help Pollinators

A black and orange butterfly perches on a purple flower

Native Plants for Pollinator Gardens

Fortunately, No Mow May (or March) is not the only way that homeowners can help local pollinators. Planting a pollinator garden and ensuring that you use native wildflowers in your garden beds are both excellent ways to make sure that our birds, bees and butterflies are able to thrive.

Bee Lawns

A lawn made up of the bright green leaves and yellow flowers of perennial peanut
Perennial Peanut makes a good lawn replacement ground cover in Florida

Another option is to plant a bee lawn. Bee lawns combine low-growing, flowering native plants with grasses to create a low-maintenance lawn that looks great whilst providing floral resources for local pollinators. An excellent turf replacement for a bee lawn in Florida is perennial peanut, a low-growing ground cover plant with tiny yellow flowers.

No Mow May: Lite Options

Someone using a lawnmower

If you like the idea of No Mow May, but you're worried about how your yard will look, here are some less full-on ways you could participate:

  • Trim just the edges of your lawn. This will help it to look cared for without sacrificing the pollinator-friendly habitat.
  • Rather than mowing the entire lawn, leave a small section as a wildflower meadow. This creates a pretty, colorful area of floral diversity without your yard looking unkempt.
  • Mow grass in the front of your property whilst leaving an area of longer grass and native plants in the back.
  • Mow the lawn every two weeks instead of every week.

Whichever of these options you decide to go for, it's important to remember that small actions can have a big impact. Your yard can provide beauty and joy for you and your family whilst also nourishing and sustaining the pollinators we depend on.

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