Nature Conservancy of Canada suggests leaving lawns alone in May

May 3, 2021


Abandoning springtime chore can help nature

Caring for and spending time in the green spaces around our homes has been a refuge for many during the pandemic. In support of biodiversity, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is suggesting that we take our time in tackling one of springtime’s chores and abandon lawn mowing for the month of May.

Started in the U.K. and now picking up steam in Canada, No Mow May is a call to help wild pollinators and other wildlife in the greenspaces where we live. With habitat loss and degradation as the major cause of wildlife decline, the non-for-profit land conservation organization is suggesting that keeping your lawn mower in the shed for the month of May can benefit nature.

"If you imagine dozens and dozens of backyards doing things to improve habitat for native pollinators and migratory birds, this can have a big impact on nature and the quality of our urban ecosystems,” said Dan Kraus, NCC’s senior conservation biologist. “By letting flowers bloom on your lawn, including dandelions, you can provide an important source of nectar and pollen for wild bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.”

Bees and butterflies are the most familiar insect pollinators, while moths, flies, beetles and ants are lesser-known pollinators that still play an important role. In recent years, there has been a sharp decline in some pollinator populations due to climate change, habitat loss (including the loss of native plants) and pesticides. Many of the fruits we buy or that we grow in our own gardens, including strawberries, apples and melons, depend on pollination by wild insects.

If you are compelled to mow, NCC suggests delaying the first spring mow as long as possible, mowing less often and mowing slowly to allow insects, frogs and other wildlife to move out of the way. You can also practice “rotational mowing” to allow some patches of grass to support flowering plants. One study in the UK found that changing a mowing routine and allowing plants to flower can create enough nectar for 10 times more pollinators. It is suggested to mow your lawn every four weeks (depending on how fast it’s growing), which results in a higher number of flowers on your lawn.  

Kraus says that trying to increase your lawn’s diversity is important for urban nature because lawns are one of the largest green spaces in our towns and cities. Canada has an estimated 6.2 million lawns. Supporting nature in our backyards is also a great way to learn about Canadian wildlife that lives around us.

Other tips on how to attract pollinators can be found here: https://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/blog/archive/saving-the-bees.html#.YFN85dt7nOQ


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation’s leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 14 million hectares (35 million acres), coast to coast to coast. Here in Saskatchewan, NCC has protected 198,219 hectares (489,810 acres) of ecologically sensitive lands and waters. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.

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Daphne May
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