Now that May is coming to a close, many people who participated in “No Mow May” may not realize that mowing will now destroy the habitat that was just created.
While the intentions behind this trending concept are admirable — to promote biodiversity and support pollinators — a better approach is to consider adopting the practice full-time.
It’s important to understand that creating and maintaining such an environment requires more than simply avoiding mowing. Native plants that attract butterflies, like milkweed, need to be intentionally planted in the area to truly foster a thriving ecosystem.
One of the significant challenges with creating a meadow is the potential for the unintended growth of trees and woody plants, particularly in regions like the Finger Lakes, where forests are the default environment. If left unaddressed, these plants can take over, ultimately transforming your yard into a forest rather than the meadow-like environment you envisioned. Another concern is to be aware of invasive plants that can outcompete the native wildflowers. Maintenance becomes necessary to remove invasive plants that will lead to an ecological imbalance.
Instead of participating in trends like “No Mow May” to attempt to create a suitable environment for wildlife to thrive, a more practical approach can and should be taken through sustainable landscaping. Using environmental design concepts, a plan can be developed for outdoor spaces that both supports biodiversity and maintains aesthetic appeal.
Key principles in design are customized to suit individual preferences and needs. Creating mowed buffers and paths can give a property the appearance of an inviting park rather than an abandoned lot. These well-maintained pathways not only add visual appeal but also provide easy access to enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings.
By incorporating native plants and strategically placing them throughout a landscape, you can attract pollinators and create bird and butterfly habitats. The property can be as small as a village lot to large expansive stately homes, businesses and school grounds. Ultimately, the maintenance is less than turf-grass and becomes a healthier environment for all to enjoy.
As the Finger Lakes region comes alive with the transition from spring to summer (and even in winter), we can create beautiful and ecologically sound outdoor spaces that contribute to the preservation of our natural world.
Laurie Broccolo is owner and CEO of Broccolo Tree & Lawn Care. She will be a keynote speaker June 15 at Cornell University for the NYSIPM annual conference, Sustainable Landscapes and Integrated Pest Management. The webinar is open to anyone with an interest in transforming lawns into natural landscapes.