No Mow May: Why more and more Minnesotans aren't mowing their lawns this month

If you notice that your neighbor's grass is getting bit on the shaggy side this month, hold off taking to Next Door or filing a complaint just yet – they may be one of the growing numbers of people trying to help pollinators by participating in No Mow May.

The conservation initiative, which began in the UK in 2019, has been gaining traction across the US and in the Twin Cities area in recent years as calls to protect bees and other pollinators have grown.

While many people decide to participate in No Mow May on their own, some local municipalities are joining the effort by temporarily waiving rules prohibiting long grass in yards. West St. Paul took that step last year, with four more local municipalities joining the effort this year: Edina, Crystal, New Brighton, Vadnais Heights and Mendota Heights.

The idea, explains Grace Hancock, the sustainability manager for the City of Edina, is that by allowing spring followers to blossom in their yards and refraining from using pesticides, residents will help create habitat and food for bees and other pollinators and also help protect the city from climate change.

"Protecting our pollinators and creates a more resilient community, resilient to climate risks, and gives us a chance to support the plants, animals, flowers and all the bees and butterflies that make Minnesota home," she said.

The risks to local pollinators are real: according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, several of the state's pollinators have experienced steep population declines in recent years and facing challenges from pesticides, climate change, disease and parasites.

So far, Hancock says the response has been overwhelmingly positive, with over 800 residents registering their lawns with the city's program and many asking what else they can do to help.