Since a flawed study was released by Lawrence University in 2020, many have invoked "No Mow May" to let their lawns grow unchecked during Michigan's spring. While their intentions may be good, the logic behind the now-retracted study stating that lawns should remain untouched to help 'pollinators' is lacking. The truth is that the vast majority of Michiganders who opt to skip cutting the grass in May aren't doing anything other than giving their Homeowners Association (HOA) reason to chirp.

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Before looking at how the paper that spawned 'No Mow May' was exposed as using 'shoddy scholarship' to come to its conclusions, a University of Minnesota paper addressing the poor research appeared in Medium. It stated that the Lawrence University research identified species of bees that don't exist in Wisconsin in May. Other species of bee, identified visually in the Lawrence University paper, can ONLY be identified using a microscope.

Why Not Mowing in May Could Do More Harm Than Good in Michigan

Debunking No Mow May: Why Michigan Yards Should Be Trimmed

Beyond the flawed identification of bee species in the original paper, other factors must be considered before needlessly damaging your lawn by not mowing for a month. For instance, if no wildflowers grow in your yard, there's no point in letting it grow. The purpose of No Mow May is to allow pollinators to pollinate, and if your lawn is one long stretch of uninterrupted grass without a single flower popping up, you're not helping.

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Several papers addressing the flawed 'No Mow May' have been published, and nearly all of them acknowledge that letting areas heavy with floral populations grow unchecked in the spring is advantageous for pollinators. However, grass isn't on the menu for them.

How Michigan Can Help Increase Pollinating Populations

Debunking No Mow May: Why Michigan Yards Should Be Trimmed

Even though 'No Mow May' makes it sound like not mowing your lawn is like doing a favor for the Michigan environment, it isn't. You can help pollinators like Michigan's bees by planting flowering trees and shrubs, or consider planting a 'bee lawn' with a slew of Dutch white clover. Remember, the whole point of 'No Mow May' is to increase flower and bee populations, not grass seed and non-flowering weeds.

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If you decide to participate in 'No Mow May,' remember that you should never cut off more than one-third the height of your turf grass. For instance, if you went the entirety of May without mowing and your grass reached 12 inches in height, you should only cut 4 inches off, as any more than that could shock your grass right before the heat of the summer.

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