Could You–or Your Community–Go “No Mow” for a Month?

It’s no secret that we have been organic for decades–since 1996 when I first researched why there were so few butterflies on my property and discovered that they were sensitive to pesticides.

Oh simple, I thought. We’ll just use no pesticides. And it’s worked out pretty well, with a few notable exceptions that shall be best left for other stories.

I have posted several times before about something I have called the “Freedom Lawn,” (not my term by the way) which isn’t a political stance, but a lawn that doesn’t use pesticides, herbicide or fungicide (the latter has always struck me as a particularly useless product–but again I digress). For the most part, that’s what we try to maintain, and we do it without any supplemental irrigation as well.

I was amazed, therefore, to read about communities that are going “no-mow.” Basically these communities are deciding that the health of bees is more important than perfect lawns and that for a month–usually May–people who sign up won’t mow their lawns. There are nine Wisconsin communities who participate according to this article from 2021 so there may be more this year.

There are also resources for people who want to participate but may be worried that their lawns may not contain anything of value to the bees, or that they might need to convince skeptical neighbors, towns, or homeowners’ associations of the value of what they are doing.

Bee City USA has one such resource here and another can be found here.

One thing that we have always tried to maintain is a large clover field for our bees. It’s unobtrusive to anyone walking by and it’s very valuable to the bees. It seems to be used by many different types of bees–and as a secondary bonus, it’s enriching our soil too. It’s not like a wild field of dandelions that someone would perceive as a menace (although in the backyard we do let some of those grow too).

We also have lots of violets which never seem to get too badly out of control–it may be the density of our clay soil. Those are great both for the bees and for the butterflies as well.

Right now all you might see in my yard is dead grass, so that’s why I have no photos with this post. But everything will be awakening soon in my part of the country–and that means that the bees and the butterflies will be right behind it.

How will you take care of your lawn–and its “weeds” this year?

5 thoughts on “Could You–or Your Community–Go “No Mow” for a Month?

  1. tonytomeo April 2, 2022 / 2:13 pm

    In our chaparral climate, lawns need at least some degree of irrigation. Although I like the concept of no-mow lawns, my experience with them has not been good. I worked for a landscape company that promoted them as needing less maintenance and irrigation, but then proceeded to maintain them to death. Even if they actually wanted to give them less maintenance (which they did not, since they can charge more for more maintenance), they did not know or care how to maintain them properly. The lawns performed very badly, until another landscape maintenance company took over. Even then, and even though they needed less than conventional lawns, they were not easy to maintain here. It is frustrating to see more unused lawns in our chaparral climate than in climates where they require less resources. We should have less rather than more.

  2. gardendaze April 2, 2022 / 2:27 pm

    I have to say, when I saw the photos of the no-mow lawns, even I was a little startled. Most of them appeared to be wall to wall dandelions. If we had that here, I think our neighbors would freak out! They have all already done the “Step 1” crabgrass thing, even though we live around a lake. Then they all wonder why we have algae in the lake. It’s much too early to be putting down nitrogen fertilizer–we’re just feeding algae. Anyway, that’s just one problem. It’s disenheartening.


  3. The Chatsworth Lady April 2, 2022 / 8:17 pm

    I may be forced by circumstances to go No-Mow for about that long, in the backyard at least, because the large excavated area that needs seeding and is now just bare dirt (subsoil, more like..) is the only way that a mower can get into the backyard from the front. And since new grass isn’t supposed to be mowed until at least 6 weeks after germination….. dang. Seed hasn’t even gone down yet because it has been too cold. The only other option is to leave it as dirt (and mud..) until September and do the seeding then. 😦

  4. gardendaze April 3, 2022 / 7:13 am

    You have had your challenges, with that house and yard–I am always astonished when I read your posts. I agree that we have had much better success seeding lawns in September although last summer a neighbor who just finished a pool project (you know, we’re all living in our backyards now, not just the gardeners) seeded his lawn, on a sunny slope in July and it took–with lots of supplemental irrigation of course. So if you decide that you can’t stand the look of mud until September, there is that option.

  5. kelyou5 April 26, 2022 / 9:32 am

    I think it’s a great idea! I love the look of a well-manicured lawn, but it’s a lot of work to keep up. I would definitely be open to giving it a try for a month. Who knows, I might even like it!

    Could my community? No way!

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