Cold, wet weather keeps many Iowans from mowing their lawns, but some vow to ditch the drudgery for the entire month in order to help tiny but vital pollinators.
Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green is leading by example by participating in ‘No Mow May’ as bees come out of dormancy and need flowering plants as crucial foraging habitats – even though he was afraid of getting bitten when he was a kid.
“As I got older, I realized how essential they are to our food chain and to ensuring crop pollination and being the backbone of our food supply,” says Green. “So as mayor, I’m really excited to have this opportunity to educate other residents and hopefully get them excited about bees, butterflies and other pollinators.”
Cedar Falls residents are encouraged to limit or skip their lawn mowing in May, and the city council voted not to enforce the ordinance requiring eight-inch tall grass and weeds to be cut for the month . In his proclamation, Mayor Green calls No Mow May a “community science initiative.”
“It gives us the opportunity to bring in schools and families and help them set up a monitoring program in their own backyard,” says Green, “and hopefully motivate the kids to do I would love to see kids count the number of bees per square meter on any given day and report it.
Iowans who take pride in their landscaping may be slow to buy into the idea, and Green admits he was initially hesitant to come on board. He says he had to change his mind. “I hate dandelions, so I was one of the people who would weed the yard and make it as pristine as possible like a golf course,” says Green. “It just took me a while to realize that this kind of lawn care approach is damaging to the environment.”
City residents are encouraged to register their intention not to mow as well as the size of their yard. Some post signs to let neighbors know they’re not being lazy, they’re helping promote critical pollinator habitat.