Talks of No Mow May have begun around Minnesota with just a few days left in April. But what is No Mow May exactly?

I had an original assumption about why we participate in this now-popular initiative. While I think my assumption is still sort of accurate, the main reason I'm finding online is actually a little different but equally important.

Let's talk about both, why it might actually NOT be a good idea to participate, and what you can do instead.

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What is No Mow May?

No Mow May is an initiative to get people to not mow their lawns too early in the season in order to benefit our planet.

It started over in the UK, according to the website Bee City USA, but the idea has spread quickly over the years across the US, too.

Niklas Hamann, Unsplash
Niklas Hamann, Unsplash
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I had originally thought that the reason for No Mow May was to allow the bugs and critters that are hibernating under the dead leaves, plants, etc. time to wake up for the warmer months before we go through with the lawnmower.

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While I'm pretty certain this is still an important side benefit, that's actually not why No Mow May was started. I really want to know where I got my idea from...

No Mow May is actually to allow wildflowers in your yard to bloom for the bees to come around and pollinate. So by not mowing in May, you're giving the flowers time to grow instead of chopping them down.

Why Participating in No Mow May Might be a Bad Idea

This idea to keep the flowers around for the bees sounds great, right? There are a few arguments as to why this may not be as good as it sounds.

Adonyi Gabor, Unsplash
Adonyi Gabor, Unsplash
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The first argument is one that I have and I'm sure others have echoed before: You have these flowers for the one month you don't mow and then you chop them down. So when the bees come back looking for pollen in June, it's gone. That doesn't seem great.

The second argument, which I found on a website called Backyard Ecology, says that No Mow May "doesn’t take into account what is in your yard or anything else that is being done to your yard."

What they mean is, if your yard is usually just plain old grass, letting it grow for a month isn't going to magically produce wildflowers, that's not how it works. So by letting your lawn go doesn't actually accomplish what No Mow May set out to do in the first place.

Image of freshly mowed grass in garden, with lawn stripes
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What You Can Do Instead of No Mow May

Instead of participating in No Mow May, are really easy and beneficial thing you can do that will help pollinators all spring and summer is getting some local wildflower seeds. Toss them in an area of your yard that you don't mind not mowing. Then you can let that stuff go wild, it's less for you to mow, and the bees are happy!

Jamie Street, Unsplash
Jamie Street, Unsplash
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It's also super easy to plant wildflowers. My husband did it in our backyard last year and I'm pretty certain the instructions told him to go out, throw the seeds wherever you want, and then walk all over them to get them in the ground a bit. That's about it. Obviously, check the directions on the seed packets you get but it should be pretty simple. We get our seeds from Winona-based Prairie Moon Nursery.

Happy planting!

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Gallery Credit: Carly Ross