GARDENING: No no on No Mow May

Dandelion at the seed head stage.

Credit: Contributed

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Dandelion at the seed head stage.

Credit: Contributed

New campaign would not help pollinators as it promises.

Another social media meme regarding pollinators is making the rounds and is making me crazy – this time, pushing me over the limits.

The new campaign is No Mow May.

The premise is that if you don’t mow in May, the pollinators get to enjoy your dandelions throughout the month, thus helping them out in the early part of the spring.

Again, I need to point out that I am pro-pollinators and am doing my part in my landscape and in my teaching to assist the pollinators in their plight. I have a quarter-acre prairie just for pollinators. I have numerous species of native plants mixed in my perennial border.

Much to my husband’s chagrin, we have dandelions in the lawn in the spring. He takes great pride in the lawn and works to get the front lawn in good shape. The back and farther back of the property, well, let’s just say there are lots of weeds.

Back to No Mow May. Close your eyes for a moment and think about what your lawn would look like if you didn’t mow in May. How would you like to bale your turfgrass at the end of the month?

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This is not feasible, even for lawns with weeds. On top of that, this practice leads to the use of even more pesticides if someone wanted to eliminate the weeds.

Research shows that proper mowing and mowing heights results in fewer weeds and a decrease in the need for pesticides.

Proper mowing is never removing more than one-third of the grass blade at a time. Using the highest mowing height recommended for the type of turfgrass results in a nice thick lawn that prevents weeds from growing. Therefore, good cultural practices help to reduce the use of pesticides.

In addition, research also shows that controlling dandelions is best in the puff ball stage (seed heads) or in the fall. If you have dandelions blooming in May, they are available to pollinators. Wait to control them until after they finish blooming and go to seed or spray in the fall.

On a side note, my 6-year-old grandson calls the dandelion seed head “shoe feathers.” I love this term and have now come to use it regularly.

He coined this term at age five. Think about it, when walking through the grass, kicking the seed heads, they look like feathers coming off your shoes! From the eyes of children…..

As I have said before, just plant something. If you are inclined to spray dandelions and other blooming weeds, plant something else in the landscape that feeds early pollinators! But for heaven’s sake, don’t let your lawn go the month of May without mowing!

The meme also mentioned that plants like clover and violets serve the pollinators in May, but in our area these don’t bloom until June. If you want to control them, don’t spray when they are in full bloom.

Violets are one plant that I don’t like in the lawn. I used to love them as they are my favorite color, purple. Once they started creeping into my flower beds and outcompeting my perennials, I was over them.

Sometimes recommendations on social media are good and follow the research. While other times, well, this one is just crazy in my mind!

Pamela Corle-Bennett is the state master gardener volunteer coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. Contact her by email at bennett.27@osu.edu.

caption arrowCaption
Proper mowing heights helps to prevent dandelions; front plot in the photo mowed high, back plot mowed low.

Credit: Contributed

Proper mowing heights helps to prevent dandelions; front plot in the photo mowed high, back plot mowed low.

Credit: Contributed

caption arrowCaption
Proper mowing heights helps to prevent dandelions; front plot in the photo mowed high, back plot mowed low.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

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