Now you have an official excuse to put off mowing the lawn. Some cities are asking their residents to put away the lawn mowers for the month of May and let the grass grow. The rationale here is not to help the grass, but to help the bees. Letting the spring grass grow for just one month allows plants typically identified as weeds, such as violets, white clover, and dandelion to grow just enough to flower.
Bees are facing catastrophic declines. In North America, nearly one in four native bee species is imperiled, partly because of habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change, and urbanization.
Lawns typically provide a poor habitat for bees. But if allowed to flower, lawn weeds (perhaps better characterized as plants other than grass) can provide rare spring food for bees emerging from hibernation.
Research has shown No Mow May lawns had five times the number of bees and three times the bee species than did mowed parks. But experts caution that the initiative is only the starting point for bee conservation. What you did for one month, that’s cool, that helps, but what are you going to do the rest of the summer or the rest of the year to make sure that our pollinators are protected? Planting native flowers, creating bee nesting habitats and reducing herbicide and pesticide use are other bee friendly practices. The roles of urban and suburban environments for bees are absolutely huge. We have to start thinking about what our role is in an urban ecosystem and how to strike a balance between development and biodiversity.
Check online to see if your city supports No Mow May and register your participation. Some cities even provide lawn signs so your neighbors don’t think you are dead or become unhappy with your shaggy lawn and mow it without your permission. For once, helping the environment requires you to simply do nothing. For many of us, that may mean sitting back and watching the grass grow.