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What is No Mow May? [Answered: Plus 5 Surprising Benefits]

No Mow May is an initiative to put a pause on mowing residential lawns in the month of May. The main goal of No Mow May protects and boosts the struggling populations of bees, butterflies, and other essential pollinators. By keeping your mower in storage until June, you will help local bees and butterflies thrive. Plus, these insects will pollinate your fruit and vegetable plants for you, ensuring you have a great harvest from your home garden.

No Mow May

Where Did No Mow May Come From?

No Mow May began in the UK in 2019. The initiative was planned in order to restore bee, butterfly, and wildflower populations that have plummeted in the UK in the last century. No Mow May was so successful at reviving local wildlife that it began to take off in the United States in 2021.

  • The first No Mow May took place in the UK in 2019.
  • Cities in the United States began implementing No Mow May in 2021.
  • No Mow May has been very successful at helping at-risk bee populations.

Due to the positive effects of No Mow May, more and more local governments are asking residents to put a pause on mowing for the month of May. Because bee colonies have been dying off in the United States for decades, No Mow May is crucial to saving the species that pollinate the crops we grow for food.

5 Benefits of No Mow May

The prospect of not mowing your lawn for an entire month in spring might seem like a recipe for disaster at first. After all, most of us enjoy a nice, neat lawn. However, there are some incredible benefits of not mowing in May. The best reasons to take part in No Mow May are:

Protect Bees and Other Essential Species

Bees and butterflies feed on the nectar and pollen found in flowers to survive. Dandelions, clover, and wild violets all support local bee and butterfly populations. By participating in No Mow May, you let the natural flowers in your lawn provide food for pollinating species. If you continue mowing in May, you’ll chop the heads off flowers and starve pollinators.

  • The dandelion, clover, and other “weed” flowers that grow in your yard in May will feed bees, butterflies, and other essential species.
  • Pollinating insects rely on pollen and nectar from flowers for food.
  • Bees and other pollinators have been struck by massive die-off events in recent years.
  • Putting a pause on mowing during May helps to boost bee and butterfly populations.

Bees, butterflies, moths, and other pollinators have experienced unprecedented die-off events in North America and the rest of the world. As these pollinators die, essential crops go unpollinated and fail. This leads to rising food prices since there is less food produced from farming. So, you will not only help local wildlife if you participate in No Mow May, but you’ll also save money at the grocery store.

Ensure Your Fruits and Vegetables are Pollinated

If you grow fruit trees, berries, or a vegetable garden, taking part in No Mow May will ensure you get a great harvest. When you allow dandelions and other plants to flower in your yard, you’ll attract bees and butterflies. These pollinators will also visit your garden plants, where they will pollinate the flowers there. The flowers on your fruits and vegetables must be pollinated, or they won’t produce any fruit. So, not mowing in May means your garden will produce more homegrown food than ever before.

  • Pollinators are more likely to visit your yard and garden if your lawn has flowers.
  • Bees and butterflies drawn to your unmowed yard (and the flowers growing there) will also pollinate your garden plants and fruit trees.
  • More pollinated flowers in your garden means you’ll get more fruits and vegetables.

If you do mow your yard during May, you risk driving off pollinators and causing further population collapse. Without enough local pollinators, your garden will go unpollinated. This results in plants that flower, but don’t produce any food. So, it’s a great idea to stop mowing in May.

Reduce Your Spring Workload

If you don’t mow your yard in May, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and work. Instead of hours spent mowing and edging the lawn, you can focus on household spring cleaning tasks or that weekend renovation project you’ve been putting off. No Mow May is an excellent way to give yourself more free time while doing something great for the environment.

  • Not mowing in May will give you more time for other spring home improvement and maintenance projects.
  • Consider planting trees, flowers, or vegetables in your yard during May.

Instead of doing traditional lawn care in May, consider spending that time selecting and planting varieties for a vegetable garden or flower bed. This way, you can still improve the look of your yard even while you’re letting wildflowers bloom on your lawn.

Save Money on Gas

Lawn mowers devour gasoline, so you have to pay at the pump to mow your yard. Even if you use an electric mower, that energy use shows up on your monthly bill. You can avoid all of these costs by not mowing your lawn in May. So, No Mow May benefits the bees and puts a little extra cash in your wallet.

  • Participating in No Mow May means you won’t have to pay for gas or electricity for your lawn mower.
  • Once you begin mowing again, your lawn will quickly take on its neat appearance with no permanent harm done.
  • When you resume mowing in June, start by mowing at the tallest setting to avoid shocking your grass.

Participating in No Mow May won’t do damage to your lawn either. Reducing your frequency of mowing for a month helps combat habitat loss for bees and butterflies, but your grass will bounce back once you start mowing again in June. Just remember to mow on the tallest height the first time you mow again, then gradually work your way down to the desired length in the following weeks.

Enjoy Flowers in Your Yard

What we often consider weeds are actually fantastic wildflowers. Dandelions, clover, creeping Charlie, wild violets, buttercups, and goldenrod commonly grow in lawns throughout North America. Not only are these plants food for pollinators, but they are also beautiful flowers that can help your unmowed lawn look like a beautiful farm meadow, once you get used to the long grass.

  • Many plants that are considered weeds produce beautiful flowers.
  • A yard takes on a “flowering meadow” appearance during No Mow May.
  • Allowing wild plants to flower protects these plant species from decline.

Not only are pollinators such as bees at risk from excessive mowing, but wildflower species are also too. By allowing wild flowering plants to bloom and cast seeds, you will help prevent a decline in natural plant biodiversity. So, No Mow May is good for the plants, the bees, and you.

Does No Mow May Help Bees?

No Mow May is vital for helping bees. The goal of No Mow May is to let flowering plants in your lawn flourish. Bees need to harvest the nectar and pollen from these flowers to produce food to survive. So, participating in No Mow May will help dangerously declining bee populations bounce back.

What Happens After No Mow May?

Once No Mow May ends, you can resume mowing your lawn in June. However, it’s best to take a gradual approach. Mowing your yard extremely short after a month of growth can shock your grass, causing yellow or damaged areas. So, set your mower on the highest blade setting when you mow for the first time in June.

  • You can resume your standard mowing schedule once No Mow May ends.
  • The first time you mow after No Mow May, set your mower blade as high as possible.
  • Gradually lower the blade height as you mow in the weeks following No Mow May—this gradual return to a low height will keep your lawn green and healthy.

Mow once every 1–2 weeks in June. Each time you mow, lower the blade a little bit until you reach the desired height for your lawn. By following up on No Mow May with safe mowing techniques, your yard will remain green and thriving.

Why Should You Not Cut Your Grass in May?

The reasons you should not mow your lawn this May are:

  • To allow bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to feed on flowering plants (like dandelions) in your lawn.
  • Increase the pollination rates of plants in your garden by attracting pollinators to your flowering yard.
  • Provide yourself with more free time for non-mowing projects in May.
  • Eliminate fuel costs from mowing.
  • Allow wildflowers to flourish and cast seeds.

No Mow May is the easiest way to help struggling bee populations regain numbers. It’s so easy that all you have to do is…not do anything. By keeping your mower in storage for the month of May, you’ll help the environment and protect essential wildlife populations.

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