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Lawncare a powerful tool to benefit pollinators

No Mow May is coming to an end for many Michiganders. The conservation initiative encourages people to not mow their lawns for the month of May in an effort to provide better habitats for early-season pollinators. What was once only practiced in Great Britain is now becoming popular practice all across the United States. Many Keweenaw residents joined this year. 

May tends to be a time when many so-called lawn weeds, like dandelions and clover plants, are in full bloom. These plants provide nectar for bees and other pollinators since most other plants are not as quick to bloom. Since so many residents remove them- for many years, pollinators have had an extremely limited source of nutrition and resources to pollinate other plants. 

Bees, moths, hummingbirds, wasps, beetles, bats, and butterflies are all pollinators. 

Marcia Goodrich, president of Keweenaw Wild Ones local chapter gives some environmental insight behind No Mow May.

“For me, what’s really wonderful about No Mow May is that it sort of helps people realize that in a sense, their gardens are not just their gardens. They are actually home to potentially countless other wild critters and it provides a habitat at a time when we have been destroying our habitat pretty relentlessly. And just by introducing people to that idea, I think No Mow May is very valuable,” she said.

She also noted that things like this take time and that one No Mow May will not single-handedly create a bumblebee population boom. Real change occurs when it is repeated year after year.

There can be certain obstacles in the way as far as this concept goes.

Neighborhoods with Homeowners Associations may limit extensive yard growth. Additionally, some people might not have a strong enough lawn mower to cut through tall grass. For cases like this, Marcia Goodrich explained that planting native wildflowers in your gardens is just as good.      

“What I really would like to see in the future is more and more people becoming accustomed to the idea that their lawn doesn’t have to be like green pavement. I understand that a perfect lawn is a beautiful thing but if you get used to the idea that you can share your yard with wildlife, then perhaps you may consider adding some native plants to the mix. Native plants provide far better resources for wildlife than just letting your lawn grow,” she explained. 

Milkweeds, aster, and purple coneflowers are just a few examples of native wildflowers that will attract and benefit pollinators. 

Pollinators are absolutely essential for the reproduction of many plants in our environment. They are the reason why we have biodiversity and so many thriving gardens. Marcia Goodrich spoke about the importance of protecting our local bees and she described them as, “like a lovely little farm animal that does great work.”

She presented a moral question: “Why would we essentially drive some species to extinction through our gardening practices when we could actually be saving them?” 

She reflected on her own life saying that she notices fewer and fewer forms of wildlife every year. Our wildlife is not to be taken for granted. She stated, “This message is for those who love hearing birds sing in the trees and watching butterflies fly.”  

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