No Mow May on The Greenway

27, Apr, 2022

Written by Abigale Parker, Director of Horticulture

Have you noticed that the mowing crews are skipping certain lawns on The Greenway this spring? Don’t fret! The Greenway Conservancy is participating in Plantlife’s No Mow May this year, an international initiative meant to support pollinators, reduce lawn inputs, and grow healthier lawns. No Mow May, first popularized in Europe, challenges landscapers and homeowners to let their lawns grow for the entire month of May without mowing. While you do less, your lawn does more for wildlife and conservation!

May is a critical time for pollinators in New England as bees and other pollinating insects emerge from hibernation. It’s critical that these beneficial insects find sufficient food to replenish the energy they used up overwintering. Resisting the urge to mow in May allows nectar and pollen-producing flowers like clover, violets, and self heal to grow amidst the grass and provide a significant food source for our hungry pollinators. Studies have shown that participating in No Mow May has led to three times more bee species diversity and five times more bee abundance in lawns! With many bee populations declining or endangered, this simple initiative packs an impactful ecological punch. Additionally, taller grass creates habitat for ground-dwelling insects, some species of butterflies, and increases forage for migrating birds!

So, what impact will No Mow May have on the lawns on The Greenway? 

Mowing less frequently also benefits the grass! Allowing grass to grow taller also allows its roots to grow longer and deeper into the soil. This improves the resiliency and drought tolerance of the lawns heading into the stressful hot summer months. Throughout The Greenway’s 1.5 mile park there are about 3.5 acres of lawn overall. Some lawn areas are used heavily by the community for recreation, programs, and play, but others are not big enough for recreational use or are in locations undesirable for programs and play. These smaller, less frequented lawns, which make up about one-third of the total mowed areas in the park, will be the sites for this year’s No Mow May on The Greenway. These are areas we may also consider converting to lawn alternative plantings in the future like wildflower plantings or low growing perennial plantings.

In addition to these low-use areas, we’ll also be including one lawn that gets a bit more use in the Wharf District next to our Greenway Carousel during No Mow May. This will bring visibility to this initiative and showcase the horticultural benefits of mowing less frequently. Though our more high-use lawn areas won’t be participating in No Mow May this year, we will be working to slowly reduce the frequency of mowing park-wide. Our goal is to be able to maintain the lush lawns that our community uses every day while also benefiting pollinators, conserving water, and reducing inputs.