With spring weather here, a national nature advocacy group hopes to see shifts in lawn care to include options for pollinators and other key environmental critters.
No Mow May is an annual campaign by Plantlife, a conservation group in England, and entails exactly what it sounds like: resisting the urge to cut the lawn this month, leaving weeds to feed pollinators. While some have attempted this, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) urges people to take the next step: naturalizing yards.
With about 6.2 million lawns across the nation, it is exciting to see people who want to help nature, says Andrew Holland, NCC national media relations director.
“We are suggesting they use native plants – trees and flowers – in their yards to have a lasting impact,” he says, adding that many plants bloom before dandelions and are more nutritious.
Most people are interested in helping bees, but the organization hopes to see residents go beyond for all pollinators, including hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, and ants.
“For some people who still want to mow their lawn, we urge people to convert a small portion of the property, whether it is their lawn or flower or garden beds, to native plants to have an impact,” Holland says. Those living in apartments and condo buildings could add a native plant or two to the deck or balcony.
With about 80 per cent of Canadians living in urban settings, choosing wisely can benefit local neighbourhoods, says Samantha Knight, NCC’s national conservation science manager. Native plants are an integral part of the ecosystem and can help wildlife populations, improve the health of urban ecosystems, and foster connection with nature.
“The plants we choose to grow will have a significant influence on the diversity and abundance of native wildlife,” Knight says. “Native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers support a greater diversity of pollinators and other insects than traditional horticultural plants, and are an opportunity to learn about local biodiversity.”
Native plants evolved alongside wild insects, and as a result provide better habitat than ornamentals. Invasive species can also crowd out native ones and hinder growth.