It seems fitting that off the cusp of Mother's Day I give a shout out to my four wonderful sons who continue to amaze me each day. I often think back to the days when they were growing up and to see the lightbulb click on in their growing minds when I would introduce something new to them about gardening, nature, or food. They grew up with fruit trees and a garden, so often family time was spent intertwined with Mother Nature. For this reason, it was no surprise when my son, Jonathan, called me with the latest suggestion to go Green.
He owns a home in downtown Covington just next to the park. His back yard is large in size and overgrown with clover and wild flowers. He explained to me that he was participating in no mow May. And of course he would know that this originated in England where their May is our April. So, he was not going to mow his backyard until summer. His reasoning is that it allows the clover to grow and the wild flowers which are good for the environment.
Mind you that I live on almost three acres so considering joining him on this endeavor was a stretch. The higher the grass the more enticing for snakes. The less trimming the more invasive wild privet becomes and monkey grass gets pummeled with weeds. But, as my sons learned from me growing up, I am open to learn from them and do so almost on a daily basis.
In 2019, Appleton, Wisconsin became the first state to adopt this practice by allowing their lawns to grow throughout the month of May to help the environment. This is believed to help bees and other pollinators, but more benefits have been addressed. During this month dandelions, clover and blue violets grow randomly giving color to the yard.
Fun fact: Dandelions help loosen packed soil with their deep taproots. This not only aerates the soil, but pulls calcium and other nutrients from the ground making them a natural fertilizer. This also gives bees an early season boost which is important due to the fact that 75% of the world's food crops and 35% of global agriculture depends on pollinators. It has been reported that lawns participating can support up to 400 bees each day.
This idea cuts down on pollution and gives lawn mowers a break while refraining from using herbicides or pesticides which are a factor in the decline of honeybee colonies. You save time and energy unless you want to take that time to add native plants that help support bees, butterflies and birds.
In the end, this will make for a much healthier lawn and it gives a great excuse to husbands who are preferring to watch the game on TV. "Honey, I'm participating in No Mow May for the environment!"
The article I am referring to in this column states that you do not have to go "all in" and that is exactly what I have done. For April and now May I have planned out my yard. There are areas I am allowing to grow tall while keeping the very front of my yard manicured. The areas where I have moss I let grow, the wild black berry patch areas I let grow, the fruit tree areas I have let grow only cutting a path. I keep the grass short around the vegetable garden and shed to deter snakes. I am very proud of my sons for being conscious of our environment, and for taking responsibility for their properties they work hard to maintain. They are a true chip off the old block and it is sweet for a mom to experience. I got my information from bobvila.com, but there are a ton of articles if you are interested.