Happy May everyone!
Our to-do list is beginning to grow with each passing week. We are in the midst of our Seedling Sale (thank you to everyone who pre-ordered and came to shop in person this past weekend!), planting things in the field almost every day, preparing the greenhouse for tomatoes and cleaning up the PYO Flower Garden. The fields are crawling with eager birds hungry for worms and bugs while the flowers are buzzing with many pollinators.
I recently saw several profiles I follow on social media encouraging people to participate in “No Mow May.” After looking into it, I was thrilled to learn what it was all about. The idea is to encourage homeowners to refrain from mowing their lawns for the month of May. By allowing your lawn to grow undisturbed, you can significantly increase the diversity of plants and flowers that pollinators need so desperately this time of year. Below are a couple excerpts from Bee City USA:
“Mowing your lawn less creates habitat and can increase the abundance and diversity of wildlife including bees and other pollinators. One way to reduce mowing is by participating in No Mow May. No Mow May is a conservation initiative first popularized by Plantlife, an organization based in the United Kingdom, but which is gaining traction across North America. The goal of No Mow May is to allow grass to grow uncut for the month of May, creating habitat and forage for early season pollinators. This is particularly important in urban areas where floral resources are often limited.
Other studies have looked into how reducing the frequency of mowing throughout the growing seasons impacts bees. In a recent experiment conducted by Susannah Lerman, a research ecologist with the USDA Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, Lerman and her collaborators explored whether different lawn mowing frequencies influenced bee abundance and diversity. The team mowed herbicide-free suburban lawns at different frequencies (every week, every other week, and once every three weeks) in Springfield, Massachusetts. The results of their study found bee abundance increased when lawns were mowed every other week. Mowing every three weeks resulted in more than double the number of flowers available in lawns (mainly dandelions and clover), and increased bee diversity—yet lowered overall bee abundance versus the every-other-week strategy. The researchers hypothesize that, while the three-week mowing cycle left more flowers in the lawn, the length of the competing turf grasses made the flowers harder to find. Lerman and her colleagues documented a staggering 93 species of bees, with supplemental observations bringing the total number to 111 bee species—nearly a quarter of all bee species native to the area!”
As you begin your yard work this year, consider how your lawn could benefit our local pollinators. Maybe you participate in No Mow May or maybe you reduce the frequency you mow. Maybe you plant more native flowering plants in areas that won’t get cut down or maybe you take out your whole lawn and plant an edible garden! Don’t have a lawn to mow? Spreading the word and educating others is just as significant and powerful.
Until next time,