If you’re busy with spring cleaning and opening the cottage, why not lighten your workload this spring by not mowing the lawn? The town of Gravenhurst is adopting No Mow May this year in an effort to help local biodiversity and pollinators at this crucial time of year.
No Mow May encourages property owners to stop mowing their lawns during the month of May, which is an important time for bees and other pollinators who depend on early-blooming plants and flowers for food after hibernation. Mowing your lawn only once a month has been shown to increase local bee populations and leads to 10 times more pollination in your area, which can lead to a better summer garden with more flowers and bountiful crops and support biodiversity throughout the year.
“I think this is very much an educational exercise,” says Gravenhurst mayor Heidi Lorenz about why the town chose to adopt the campaign. “While lawns have a place for sports use, they really aren’t environmentally friendly. Grass generally requires chemicals and lots of water to thrive, and ideally, native plants are a more suitable solution.” Native plants thrive on lawns when not mowed or cut down. They are particularly important for proper pollination because native flowers, like dandelions and crocuses, not only provide nectar and pollen for pollinating insects but shelter and a suitable habitat too.
Insect populations are declining globally due to climate change, pesticide use, and habitat destruction. “Muskoka relies on clean lakes, beautiful scenery, and fresh air—it’s what draws people here,” says Mayor Lorenz. “Every little thing counts for climate mitigation, so if we can move the needle just a little bit in Mother Nature’s favour, I think we should give it a try.”
Introduced by the Nature Conservancy of Canada in 2021, No Mow May is based on a U.K. campaign that is gaining international popularity. According to Lorenz, Gravenhurst is the first town in Muskoka to test-run the project, but other Ontario towns, such as Kingston and Sudbury, are participating as well. You don’t need to be a resident of these areas to participate; everyone is encouraged to partake in No Mow May to help their local ecosystems.
During the campaign, Gravenhurst will suspend certain by-laws regarding maximum grass height and maintenance. Town Council will meet at the end of the month to discuss whether or not Gravenhurst should adopt this policy annually. The campaign is purely voluntary, and people may continue to mow their lawns if they wish. All sports fields, parks, playgrounds, and municipal properties will continue to be mowed.
Can’t participate in No Mow May this spring? No worries. Not raking your leaves in the fall supports biodiversity by helping bees and butterflies hibernate over the winter, cultivating healthy roots in trees, and providing a source of food and shelter for burrowing insects. Raking and mowing your lawn are “chores I personally would be glad to leave in the past,” says Mayor Lorenz.
You can learn about more conservation efforts in Muskoka here.
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