The Halifax Common is a sea of yellow dandelions swaying in the breeze, and city council just passed a budget funding an ambitious climate plan, so you might think the city is participating in No Mow May. But no, HRM isn't (deliberately) participating in the growing movement to discourage people from mowing their lawns at the start of spring.
The anti-mowing campaign was started by an organization called Plant Life based in the United Kingdom, and the premise is simple: Nature needs natural lawns. Manicured lawns are for humans to demonstrate they have the time and money to keep nature in check. No seriously, that’s what lawns are. Even though lawns started as a defense mechanism for castles, lesser nobility wanted to pretend they also had a castle, and mimicked the practice. So the historic practice of making sure archers on parapets had clear lines of fire has evolved over time into suburban pissing contests that are killing the planet.
No Mow May is an attempt to give lawns, temporarily, back to nature. By not mowing a lawn it allows flowers and, importantly, dandelions to grow at a time of year that is crucial for bees and other pollinators. Plant Life started this campaign in 2019, and at the end of May conducts an Every Flower Counts survey among participating gardeners in the UK to gauge NMM’s effectiveness. Year over year the Every Flower Counts survey finds that not mowing increased the amount and types of flowers and pollinators.
Dandelions are commonly viewed as a weed that must be eradicated at all costs. But ironically the thing that makes dandelions hard to remove—their deep tap roots—are quite beneficial to the health of a lawn. They aerate the soil, and the deep roots pull nutrients like calcium up to the topsoil so they can be used by other plants.
Although city hall hasn’t officially gotten woke to weeds, citizens are welcome to participate in No Mow May by keeping their mowers in the shed. If fear of getting a bylaw complaint for an unsightly lawn is a worry, worry not. In order for you to get a fine for not mowing, someone needs to complain, then the bylaw officers who show up have to agree with your annoying neighbour. Councillor Shawn Cleary says it would take a pretty serious and unique case for someone to get a ticket for not mowing their lawn. Even if someone went a whole year without mowing their lawn, it would be pretty cold-blooded for the city to give a ticket for something it’s been doing since Jan 2019.
If you would like to participate in No Mow May, or if you just want to say no to mo’ mowing, just don’t mow your lawn.