It’s that time of year again. The weather is warming up. The days are getting longer and with it, your lawn. Need a reason to postpone that trim? Join other Canadians in the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC) No Mow May campaign, a call to ditch the lawnmower for the sake of urban biodiversity.
This No Mow May follows the lead of a UK campaign that started last year. Why May? “It’s an opportunity for us to provide food sources and habitat at the start of the season,” says Matthew Braun, conservation science and planning manager at the NCC.
“We should also be doing something at the end of the season,” Braun adds, “when all the other flowers and crops in the area have shut down.” This helps supports biodiversity throughout the year.
By letting native flowers, like dandelions and crocuses, bloom on your lawn, you’re providing a source of nectar and pollen for birds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. The population of Canadian pollinators has been sharply declining recently due to climate change, pesticides and habitat loss. Insect populations are decreasing worldwide, too.
“I feel tremendous peer pressure about my unmowed lawn,” Braun says, even though his neighbours haven’t said anything about it. While he has been slowly replacing the green lawn with early flowering plants and native plants, this is the first year Braun has left the lawnmower untouched.
If you can’t withstand the pressure to let your lawn grow freely, try delaying the first cut until late spring and reducing your lawn cutting schedule to just once a month. A recent study found that reducing cutting to once every four weeks gives certain plants the chance to flower, producing 10 times as much nectar.
No Mow May is a great opportunity to study your local ecosystems. “I started taking closer notice of the plants flowering at this time of year,” Braun says, naming Saskatchewan’s bright purple prairie crocuses and sunshine yellow golden beans. His kids have started listening to the flowering shrubs for buzzing insects. “There’s more going on than you think.”
Even if you’re lawnless or an apartment dweller, Braun suggests finding that piece of biodiversity that you love and protecting it. For him, it’s the golden bean patch at the edge of town. “I know that it’s providing a service, I know that it’s beautiful and that it’s part of what makes my place special.”