Say No to Mow
04 May 2023
Unlock Next Gen member Emma Sumner describes the benefits to nature of the upcoming initiative ‘No Mow May’.
No mow May is almost here.
This is a movement that has gained traction over the past couple of years. For people who haven’t heard of it (or got the gist from the title) No Mow May is a campaign launched by the charity Plantlife to not mow your grass during the month of May. The goal is to allow wildlife to flourish during the month of May, a crucial time for flowering plants to establish themselves. This in turn supports a thriving and diverse community of animals that rely on the flowers such as bees, butterflies and birds. As a quick biology recap, flowers and bees interact over two important things: nectar (the sweet stuff flowers make which gives bees energy) and pollen (the powdery substance that gets stuck on bees as they feed on the nectar which they then spread from flower to flower allowing flowers to reproduce).
How does No Mow May help?
In previous years, No Mow May has been a huge success. There was a burst in plant diversity with rare plants such as wild strawberry, wild garlic and meadow saxifrage amongst the 250 wild plant species recorded by gardeners who took part in 2021. Dandelions, daisies and white clover are often staple plants that pop up in people’s gardens. These are all great sources of nectar for bees – a bumblebee needs just eight dandelions flowers to provide its energy needs! Rather than looking at them as unruly and potentially even ‘weeds’, allowing these plants to flourish can therefore make a huge difference.
What can I do?
I personally love the look of a wild garden that is bustling with nature however I realise that this may not be up everyone’s street. In this case, leaving a small section of grass uncut - perhaps at the bottom of the garden where it will be less seen and not ruin any garden aesthetics can still make a big difference. You can also think of the type of flowers, trees and plants you have in your garden. For example, planting early flowering trees can provide early pollinators with a much-needed food supply whilst planting native trees benefits UK wildlife most.
If you are taking part in No Mow May, register here to give Plantlife the best opportunity to see the impact and highlight where any gaps lie. You can also register to take part in Plantlife's Every Flower Counts (EFC) citizen science survey. This project involves counting the number of flowers within a square metre patch of lawn, and then Plantlife calculates the amount of nectar that's being produced by those flowers and how many bees are being fed. You'll then be provided with your own Personal Nectar Score. The results from across the country will then be combined to calculate a National Nectar Index, and the top ten lawn flowers in people's gardens.