Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Questioning “No Mow May”

Stopping to smell the flowers



Local meteorologists, newscasters, and lawn and garden centers have been broadcasting a recent trend in supporting pollinators called No Mow May. The initiative encourages gardeners, homeowners, schools, churches, and town councils to let lawns and weeds grow and bloom for the month of May to provide food and shelter for early-season pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Plantlife, a nature conservation charity in the UK, initiated the No Mow May campaign in 2019 to liberate the lawn for nature to thrive, free the wildflowers to provide a kaleidoscopic feast for pollinators, tackle pollution, and sequester atmospheric carbon underground.

King Charles III, environmentalist, gardener, organic farmer, and patron of Plantlife, originated the idea of Coronation Meadows to restore wildflower meadows across each county in the UK as a gift to honor his mother, Queen Elizabeth, on the 60th anniversary of her coronation in June 2013. Plantlife collaborated with him to create 60 wildflower meadows.



Before adopting any “new” garden campaign, it is wise to think carefully about the potential consequences of the practices and hidden pressures on the ecosystem.

Are the grasses in the UK the same as those on South Carolina lawns? Probably not. Most S.C. lawns are warm-season non-native grasses from China, Southeast Asia, or Mediterranean Europe. Turf specialists in each state’s extension office advise on proper mowing, mowing frequency, and mowing heights for each grass type.

What if your HOA or city has ordinances against letting lawns grow uncut?

Will allowing grass and wild plants to grow high for a month and then cutting them back, provide a permanent shelter and food for pollinators and other wildlife?

Bees communicate to each other about food sources and return to the same plants to forage. What happens in June when the food source is mowed down? If you want to make a durable difference for wildlife, establish a prairie plot, meadow area, wild zone, corridor, or pathway of closely planted pollen and nectar-rich native ornamentals for pollinators to traverse from spring through fall. American Meadows, Prairie Nursery, and Park Seed prepare ready-made southeastern wildflower seed packets.



When planning to attract and keep pollinators and other wildlife in your garden, choosing plants by hardiness zone isn’t enough. Zone 8 climate and plant communities in South Carolina are not equal to zone 8 in New Mexico. Use the Environmental

Protection Agencies (EPA) Level III Ecotypes map to find the ecotype of your property. From there locate nativeplant searches on websites like Pollinator Partnership, National Wildlife Federation, and the South Carolina Native Plant Society. Not all the plants listed will be suited for your precise location or site conditions, but by researching selected species one can find a good collection for a layered landscape from ground cover to canopy.

Don’t forget the native grasses. Indian grass, Sorghastrum nutans, our state grass, benefits bees, butterflies, and other pollinators by providing habitat for over-wintering eggs, larvae pupae, and adults. Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum, has many seeds and tall cover, making an excellent forage and habitat for game and songbirds and mammals.

Prairie Meadow with Joe-pye weed, Blackeyed Susan, and Purple Coneflower

Prairie Meadow with Joe-pye weed, Blackeyed Susan, and Purple Coneflower

Ask questions and weigh your options before contemplating No Mow May.

One response to “Questioning “No Mow May””

  1. Your blog captures the essence of creativity and imagination.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.