No Mow May – Does it really help pollinators?

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It’s that time of year when the “No Mow May” yard signs start springing up like daffodils.  But before you put away your mower for a month, take a look at the at recent scientific studies.  Most have found that the benefits to pollinators are negligible.  In fact, for most lawns it is more harmful to the turfgrass than good for the bees.  

Lawns without weeds are of no benefit to pollinators.  Dandelions, the most prolific grass weed, is a non-native species that has protein-deficient pollen.  While they do provide food if it’s the only source available, it’s basically the equivalent of junk food for bees.  Mowing grass that has been allowed to grow puts stress on the lawn, resulting in pest damage and slow regrowth.

The best way to help pollinators is to remove some of the grass and plant a wide variety of native spring blooming flowers, trees, and shrubs, like pussy willows, serviceberries, and bluebells.  Another alternative is planting a “bee lawn” that includes plants such as white clover, self-heal and creeping thyme.  

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