How beneficial really is "No Mow May?"

I see lots of things promoting “No Mow May” (not mowing lawn during May to help pollinators), but how beneficial really is it? There aren’t really any ecologically beneficial native plants in lawns, so to me it seems like you’re just letting the non-native weeds flower, reproduce, and spread their seeds. I feel like it’s definitely better to just plant native plants instead, but I think lots of traditional gardeners are still reluctant to that idea.


Honeybees seem like they pollinate anything, so weedy-flowers could possibly reduce competition for native bees on native flowers growing nearby? Hopefully it’s not just a case of more flowers = more honeybees?


It depends. I would say that it potentially keeps lawnmowners from running over Colletes and Andrena aggregations, and might offer some low quality resources in the early spring, which in all fairness, the early spring is often a bit of a blind spot in those beginner pollinator gardens that people buy, everything blooming in the summer, nothing in the spring. And it could potentially be a “gateway drug” for people to get them away from the need to have a pristine chemical filled lawn.

My big problem with it is that I have heard No-mow May, clover lawns, and the like, touted as this salvation for pollinators. This worries me, as to me it sounds like trying to use a bandaid as a tourniquet. People thinking that a couple of weeks of dandelions and non-native clover fixes the enormous habitat loss puts No-mow May very much into the “bee-washing” realm


It depends on where you live.
If you’re in a sparsely populated countryside area not mowing for prolonged periods can help native wildflowers propagate in your lawn on their own.
If your garden is situated in a more anthropized area you’ll mostly just get weeds, so sowing locally sourced wildflowers and manually eradicating invasives should be the first step.



there’s more than just pollinators who benefit from tall grass (ex.


I think sometimes people get so caught up with pollinators that they forget about the myriad other animals that we should be helping as well.


And I guess to be generous, if I forgot to pack a lunch for one day and someone gave me a granola bar, I wouldn’t turn it down saying that it’s not as big as my lunch would be. If the alternative is people mow and spray constantly, I guess I’ll take No-mow May.


Some people seem to use “non-native” as a synonym for “weeds.” But depending on your biome, those “weeds” may occur only in lawns and not be spreading into native habitats.

And then there is my hometown, Greenville, NC. This time of year, I see a lot of lawns with American Field Pansy and Flowering Bluets mixed in. I haven’t been able to determine whether these natives are deliberately mixed with the lawn seeds, but I have observed that lawns are their only habitat here. A bit later in the year, I have found two native plantains – Plantago virginica and Platago aristata – in lawn-like areas that are periodically mowed.

When I lived in Washington State, my mom had a place out in the country. In summertime, her lawn was full of Common Cat’s-ear, a non-native weed. Bumble bees would come out of the adjacent woodland to feed on the cat’s-ear. Similarly, at my place in the Dominican Republic, I allowed another non-native weed, Chinese Motherwort, to flourish, and its flowers had a higher abundance and diversity of native pollinators than any other species of flower I found – whereas the native Wild Ackee trees were pollinated mainly by honey bees.

We need to move away from the simplistic dichotomy of native=good, non-native=bad. Nature is more nuanced than that.


I live in a farming area. So pollinators are many and varied and sprayed. The only Western Honey bees I see are from the rent-a-beehive years.
I have a “yard area” that isn’t much grass, and I can get away with no mow until I can’t stand it. My housemate needs to mow. One year there was no mowing due to injury.
I saw many new to me things. I learned to never pull a “weed” until you know you don’t want it!
I would walk through with dragonflies following me around. I stir up many edibles for them. I learned that there are indeed many baby rose of Sharon in the mix! I still won’t dead head because of the birds that eat the seeds. The baby rabbits under the bush that year, the grass protecting them. The wildlife came closer to the house.
No mow for a month? Yes, it’s a start. Use it as a teaching month! See how many new finds.
Definitely no mow in the heat of summer, please.


Yes, it is like saying bird conservation could be fixed if more people would have bird tables.


In my view, events like this are mostly educational opportunities. Follks can begin to get in touch with nature, and meet conservationists and scientists.

The Big Guys in the room are corporations and governments. They hold the real power over climate. But if people aren’t educated, or don’t care, we can never force corpos or politicians to make needed changes.

small organizations have to draw their manpower from somewhere – and enough small and medium nature clubs, biology departments, etc DO exert influence.


Around here there are ground nesting birds that aren’t necessarily fledged by the end of no-mow may, so will end up with destroyed nests and broods, sort of lured in by habitat that just… isn’t going to remain habitat for as long as they need it to be.

I’d love to keep seeing the shift toward areas that just aren’t mowed in the season and planted with native grasses, but that’s a hard sell in a lot of my area.


Yeah, I’ve noticed that in sort of granola United States subcultures, there’s been a big change to suddenly talking about dandelions as if they’re a wonderful ally and savior in the fight against lawns and capitalism. It’s very strange. They’re nonnative here, they’re highly invasive in some sensitive areas, and they’re favored by nonnative bees, so it’s perplexing to me. Wish these subcultures would talk about native plants the way they do about dandelions!


There are rare natives that do enjoy yard environments; in my area of Ohio, I’ve got plenty of native Viola that take advantage of the lack of competition to just take over parts of my yard and don’t really do anything to discourage them.

Plus, I just hate mowing. I don’t need no-mow-may for my yard to get high


I was listening to an interview with a big proponent of No-mow May and the guy was going on about how beneficial it was. The interviewer asked if most of the flowers coming in yards were non-native dandelions, was it really that beneficial and could it possibly be spreading non-natives. The guy answered that there are several species of native dandelions.

My jaw hit the floor when I heard that. That is so misleading it might as well be false. I couldn’t believe that he implied that the dandelions in people’s yards might be the native species.

However I will grant that out of all plants, dandelions are the most obvious way to see that someone isn’t that concerned about having a perfect lawn. In the past that meant you weren’t a good home owner. It does kind of fit to have it be a flagship in the push to overturn that mindset.


We have desert dandelions in the southwest that might grow in non-irrigated landscapes. I agree with your point about the unlikely possibility of native dandelions in a conventional garden.


Completely agree! I’m not seeing the wonders of dandelions eiher…

1 Like can be a good place to check what studies might be available on the effectiveness of a restoration action. I searched and this action looks like the most similar:

Delay mowing or first grazing date on pasture or grassland
Overall effectiveness category: Likely to be beneficial

Key messages

  • Eight studies from the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK (three replicated and controlled of which one also randomized and one European systematic review) found that delaying mowing or grazing dates resulted in benefits to some or all plants, invertebrates or birds studied. These benefits included: higher plant species richness, higher densities of two rare arable weeds, more insect species and individuals visiting flowers, greater abundance of some spiders and ground beetles, increased breeding wading bird densities, and increased Eurasian skylark productivity.
  • Three reviews found the UK corncrake population increased after measures including delaying mowing dates were introduced.
  • Six studies from Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK (including three replicated controlled trials of which one was also randomized and a European systematic review) found that delaying mowing or grazing dates on grassland had no clear effect on plant species richness, ground beetle communities, abundance of some insects and spiders, or population trends of wading bird species.

Their assessment is based on studies of natural and semi-natural grasslands, not lawns, however.


469 species in 2022

But we do have to apply - don’t mow this verge because …'Grow,%20don’t%20mow’%20spring%20flowers%20applications%20now%20open

287 species in the 2021 project


Where did No Mow May originate? Until this discussion, I hadn’t realised it was a thing outside Britain. A charity here called Plantlife has been plugging it for a few years. Did they start it or just jump on the bandwagon? If it is a widespread movement, presumably May is not always the appropriate month to focus on.