May 12, 2022 - News

Neighbor's lawn overgrown? It might be No Mow May

Zenaida Flores, left, and Tharmond Ligon leave their nonprofit's land in Detroit undisturbed to promote natural growth.

Zenaida Flores, left, and Tharmond Ligon of Rescue MI Nature Now promote undisturbed growth on the nonprofit's property in Detroit. Photo: Joe Guillen/Axios

If your neighbor's grass is overgrown and peppered with bright yellow dandelions, the culprit might not be laziness, but a growing environmental movement called No Mow May.

Why it matters: Constant grass cutting diminishes pollen available to bees and other pollinating insects. Growth of the like of dandelions, violets and clover can increase the number of bees fivefold, NPR reports.

  • "When we leave our weeds – or things we would normally call weeds – to grow, those are like little cheeseburgers for our pollinators, and they're able to get some cheap calories really, really fast and put on some weight that'll give them a leg up for the season," Israel Del Toro, who teaches biology at Lawrence University, told NPR.

Driving the news: Since Ann Arbor passed legislation last month to encourage property owners to avoid May mowing, Royal Oak joined the cause and a councilperson in Ferndale is working to do likewise.

  • A self-professed "old hippie at heart," Laura Mikulski tells Axios that No Mow May would also help preserve the city’s natural green space.

State of play: Detroit hasn't officially adopted No Mow May, but will consider canceling tickets for overgrown lots if the homeowner is participating in the movement with no indication of longstanding neglect, according to city officials.

Zoom in: Nonprofit Rescue MI Nature Now has been practicing the ethos for years on about 40 lots in the Nolan neighborhood.

  • President Tharmond Ligon grew up in the neighborhood and uses the property to teach kids about developing green spaces and rebuilding natural habitats.
  • The land is largely unmowed, allowing all sorts of plants and vegetation to thrive. On a brief tour, Ligon pointed out strawberries, goldenrod, a variety of herbs and, yes, dandelions.
  • "This is nature's pocket. This is nature's corner," he says. "Do not disturb."

💭 Joe's thought bubble: The no-mow concept reminds me of the early stages of the pandemic, when the environment swiftly bounced back amid reduced carbon emissions during lockdowns.

Zenaida Flores points out a bee.
Flores points out a bee near dandelions on land not mowed in Detroit. Photo: Joe Guillen/Axios

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