Those first warm spring days have arrived (or are near)—and not far behind them is the urge to mow the lawn
The smell of freshly cut grass feels like a true marker of the season, but before we pull out our mowers and scythes, let’s think about the long-term repercussions of cutting the grass too soon in the spring.
BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Monty Don was one of the first in the mainstream to spearhead the initiative when he prompted gardeners to wait until June to mow their lawns for the first time. This 'No Mow' trend for May is now quickly catching on beyond the UK and encouraging homeowners to rethink what it means to have a perfect lawn.
There’s been a lot of shame around maintaining turf and grass recently, and although having a monoculture in our yards isn’t the most environmentally beneficial option, there are ways to have your lawn and protect the environment, too.Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash
Waiting to mow protects insects
Lawns are home to many beneficial insects, like beetles, crickets and worms, who contribute to the larger ecosystem. These insects feed animals such as birds and frogs and allow them to thrive. Leaving our lawns alone in the early spring allows these insects the time to wake up, multiply after the winter, and contribute to the part they play in the ecosystem. The ultimate favour to pay these insects is to leave a strip of naturalized area in a section of your lawn as a shelter for them year-round. You can plant native wild varieties—or just see what pops up—to beautify your landscape and protect the necessary species.
Leaving your lawn provides food
Did you know that leaving your lawn for the month of May can provide enough nectar for 10 times the number of bees and other pollinators than a lawn that was trimmed early on? With pollinator populations suffering due to urbanization, herbicide use, and a lack of food sources in the city, leaving our lawns for an extra 31 days in the spring can make all the difference. Revitalizing these populations can then have a positive butterfly effect (pun absolutely intended) on the rest of the ecosystem as well.
No Mow May revitalizes wild plant species
In 2021, those who participated in No Mow May reported over 250 plant species growing in their area, including wild strawberries, garlic and orchids. We may believe that lawns are wasted space when it comes to sustainability, but properly maintained (in a more relaxed way than we have been in the past), they can help restore native biodiversity. It may seem like you can’t make a difference for the environment with your small yard, but just a 100-square-metre area of lawn left for a month is enough to produce pollen for six mining bee brood cells to stock up on and enough nectar sugar to meet the needs of six bumblebees a day.
Sit back and enjoy the lawn (without the fossil fuel fumes)
Leaving the mower in the shed for a month aids in restoring important ecosystems and biodiversity in the city, but it also reduces a lot of emissions (at least six gallons of fossil fuels per acre of lawn). Most lawn mowers are powered by fossil fuels, so if everyone opted for an extra month in the season without, the impact would add up.
Not to mention that without the need to mow for a month, you can put your feet up and enjoy the early spring buzz. Watch the pollinators flock to your yard, see the birds wake up and nest, and redefine your relationship with your yard. It doesn’t all have to be about maintaining and perfection—it can be about relaxation and sustainability for you and your yard.
You might be tempted by the warmth of early spring to do your mowing and yard work, but just give it a month. Take a break and look around. You’ll be surprised at how much extra time you have this month without the need to mow, how beautiful your yard can be after just a month of rewilding, and how much impact you can have on the environment even while owning a grass lawn.