Sunday, May 15, 2022

Why No Mow May is not the Answer


It’s not the answer for Georgia, that is. What was the question? According to a history of the movement, not mowing your lawn in May is a way to benefit early pollinators by preserving early flowers that might be in the spring lawn. The movement started first in the UK (where flowers in lawn are not uncommon) and was adopted in 2020 by residents of Appleton, WI.

Dwarf cinquefoil (Potentilla canadensis) can be in a lawn
(although not in a lawn in this photo)

While the phrase is very cute and memorable, it is a better consideration for APRIL in Georgia landscapes. By May, most of the early lawn flowers (dandelions, violets, bluets) are done and turfgrass is growing quickly. We would be hard-pressed to convince most neighbors to stop mowing during such active growth. And if you were doing it for the dandelions, please read this to understand why non-native dandelions are not the benefit you might think.

I’d much rather convince people to consider the following (with suggested catchy phrases if you need them):

  • Cultivate less lawn overall (“Less Lawn Daily”) and use the reclaimed spaces for flowering plants that bloom in early spring ("Plant for Pollinators") such as green and gold (Chrysogonum virginianum).
  • Mow less frequently throughout the year (“Mow Monthly”) and reduce chemical use (and save money!).

I have found that with the rise of mow and blow services, lawns are mowed more frequently than they need to be (and I see lawns mowed when they are wet or don’t even need it – consequences of scheduled mowing services unfortunately). Contracts with lawn services mean that these companies mow on their schedule, charging people to mow 1-2 times per week when often a 3-week schedule would work, especially during dry times.  Irrigation and weed/feed treatments also keep lawns growing faster than they need to (more mowing!).

My lawn after 18 years

Don’t let companies that profit from your decisions convince you to apply more chemicals and mow more often than your lawn needs. My lawn was laid from sod in 2004 and almost twenty years later (without fertilizer or irrigation) looks quite good. I leave some extra plants (violets, fleabane, dwarf cinquefoil, and even a few ferns have moved into the more shaded areas) and I hand weed the occasional non-native weeds.

I kept track of my mowing schedule last year for my zoysia lawn. Letting the grass grow a little longer (e.g., 3 inches instead of 2) helps to keep the soil cool, more moist, and suppress weed seeds from germinating. I mowed every 3 or 4 weeks depending on conditions and need. And this year, we switched from gas to a battery mower, another change to consider.

Rethink your lawn not just in May but in every month.  


  1. Good point. I used to live in almost a similar latitude to the uk and yes, May makes sense there. I just moved here west of Atlanta and have been delighted at the profusion of growth i saw in March and April. I may have to reach out through GNPS (already joined the West chapter) as I could use some consultation on how to take this neglected land and bring back the natives. Lol, i don't know the plants of the southeast!

  2. No Mow April is definitely better for the south. Though, maybe even No Mow July or August here in Texas because when the drought hits, the plants stop growing and any green you can get, we take!