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'Help out the bees': Downtown Appleton lawns reach over a foot by Day 20 of No Mow May

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Posted at 9:26 PM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 22:26:46-04

APPLETON, Wis. (NBC 26) — If you drive through the neighborhoods of Appleton, you'll see dozens of yards with unusually tall grass, lined with hundreds of dandelions.

"We participate every year," Sam Rabideau said.

Residents like Rabideau and Alison Umbarger aren't bringing out the mower until June.

"Plus, it's less work, right?" Umbarger said.

Friday was Day 20 of No Mow May. And in downtown Appleton, some lawns have grown over a foot tall.

"We like the chance to help out the bees, and it's been fun watching little different bees around in my garden on the strawberry plants and stuff," Umbarger said. "So I've been enjoying it."

The initiative lets grass grow to provide food for pollinators. In 2020, Appleton was the first city in the United States to join No Mow May.

"I personally like the fact that you see everyone's yards spring up with violets and dandelion," Umbarger said. "And my kids enjoy picking dandelions on the way home from school."

And around Rabideau's house?

"I got a few dandelions in my yard," she said. "The bees and butterflies really enjoy them, and it increases their population."

According to Lawrence University biology professor Israel Del Toro, the city found a five-fold increase in abundance of bees in No Mow May lawns during its first year participating.

"The health of those populations certainly help the health of our populations as well," Rabideau said.

Over the next ten days, grass around Appleton will grow even taller.

"I hope the bees make it through and do well," Umbarger said.