MENASHA (NBC 26) — All around the country, there's a movement taking place called "No Mow May." It's been instituted in an effort to help early pollinators such as bees, birds and butterflies, as spring grows fuller.
The idea is that cities consider lifting ordinances for yard lengths and neighbors may grow their grass as tall as they want for the month of May.
But, there's been some pushback against the unruly-looking results of this effort. In response, the City of Menasha's Sustainability Committee has come up with a middle-ground solution, with what some call "Low Mow May."
Officially, the initiative is called "Mow at 4 for Pollinators."
“The concept with Mow at 4 For Pollinators is that folks — in the month of May and beyond that — in the city of Menasha, if they choose to participate, keep their mower at four inches. And when it gets to six, you mow," explained City of Menasha 4th District Alderman Austin Hammond. "And the reason for that is it lets low flowering plants bloom, it lets it stay always grown, and you’re always mowing just above it.”
While those participating are encouraged to let their lawn get a little longer than usual, they're still expected not to let it grow above eight inches. That would be against city ordinance.
"I just want to be very clear," Hammond underscored. "No one on the Sustainability Committee is encouraging anyone to break ordinances or participate in No Mow May. Please abide by the ordinances that are currently instated."
Mow at 4 for Pollinators encourages mixing flowering plants such as clover, violets, dandelions, and thyme with turf grass. These plants can survive under the conditions of a typical lawn, such as foot traffic and pet waste.
"And for the record, there's tons of low flowering plants that you can mix in with your lawn. Those are just simply some easily accessible ones that I think people could do that wouldn't create a lot of barriers for them to participate," Hammond added.
"We, as just individuals and [as] members of the Sustainability Committee, really feel that this is a holistic approach to increasing our pollinators' population and helping them have a better chance. We, as members of the Sustainability Committee, also like to encourage our neighbors to do things with their own property that they can have a more sustainable life," Hammond said.
Neighbors like Deb and Robert Benada are big advocates for pollinators and environmental involvement. They are year-round participants of Low Mow May.
"We actually have a No Mow yard, period. This the front part of the yard does not get mowed," Robert said.
The Benadas don't have to mow because they do not have a traditional turf grass lawn. Their yard consists of native plants, and they make no use of repellent chemical treatments.
"We don't put any herbicides or pesticides on it. They're not needed. We want the pollinators to be here. And if they eat the plants that's okay," Robert said.
“We want to support a good, healthy environment, and that means sustaining a variety of, of species – of birds and insects and mammals," Deb agreed.
They are also members of the Fox Valley chapter of Wild Ones, a nonprofit organization that promotes the use of native plants and landscaping in lawns of all sizes.
But you don't have to change out your yard entirely to support the movement.
“There's a big stigma around this, unfortunately, that it's about the grass. A lot of people get so hung up on the grass — that grass doesn't flower bees, and pollinators aren't getting what they need from the grass. Well, no, it's the flowering plants that are mixed in by not mowing,” Hammond said.
Helping pollinators out is not only good for the local food supply but also for the environment overall.
Additional benefits of participating in this movement include spending less on fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and water for your lawn. It also means having to push the mower less frequently.
To learn more about Mow at 4 for Pollinators and how to plant or maintain your own bee-friendly lawn, you can visit this website. You can also order yard signs to show support for Low Mow May at the link provided.