Why you shouldn't mow your lawn this May, according to plant experts

Are you up to the No Mow May challenge? Here's everything you need to know about the campaign encouraging gardeners to lock up the lawn mower this month

lawn with a lavender border and chair
(Image credit: Future)

May is usually the time many of us would be pulling out the lawn mower for its first trim of the year. However, the No Mow May campaign is challenging gardeners to hold off for one more month to support local wildlife. 

The No Mow May campaign, launched by Plantlife, is now in its second year and one of the easiest lawn ideas to try this month. The aim of the campaign is to not tell gardeners to put away their lawn mower for good, but to reconsider how often you trim your lawn.

Taking part in the campaign couldn't be simpler - all you need to do is nothing for the month of May. Just lock up your lawn mower and let the wildflowers in your lawn bloom. Maybe use the time to explore our best lawn mower guide.

Lawn path leading to summer house

(Image credit: David Giles/Future)

The challenge has already been taken up by organizations across the US, UK, and Canada including The National Trust, Yeo Valley Organic, Wildsight, and many UK-based local councils. 

Why should you not mow the grass in May?

Lawns are often just considered a space to sunbathe or for the kids to play on. However, research by Plantlife has found that lawns are biodiversity hotspots. If you are keen to support bees and other wildlife, your lawn is the place to start.

Plantlife's survey recorded 97 species of butterflies, moths, and bees on lawns. The largest number of pollinators were found on lawns that were left unmown all year, while the lowest number was found on lawns mown weekly.

'For the first time, we can show how the frequency of mowing directly affects the number of pollinators you can attract,' says Dr. Trevor Dines, Botanical Specialist at Plantlife. 'Put simply, the less you mow the more bees and butterflies there will be in your garden.'

This last year has seen a huge turnaround in attitudes towards keeping a neat and tidy front lawn. Celebrities such as Monty Don and Chris Packham are encouraging gardeners to stop mowing lawns as often in order to support the wildlife in our garden.

A survey by Plantlife found that the number of people mowing their lawns weekly or fortnightly dropped from 47% to just 16% in 2020. However, whether this was a lockdown habit or a permanent change remains to be seen.

lawn surrounded by flowers

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

'As our daily horizons shrank to the confines of our homes and gardens - people sought out connections with nature like never before. We’ve come to appreciate the vital role wildflowers play in supporting a wealth of wildlife and are less comfortable with the neat-and-tidy aesthetic, embracing a wilder approach instead,' explains Dr. Trevor Dines.

'There’s a definite trend towards a shaggier, ‘managed messiness’ as gardeners’ outlooks have rewilded'.

Will you be giving the mowing a break this May? Instead, why not spend the time learning how to grow a butterfly garden to encourage even more biodiversity in your outdoor space.

Rebecca Knight

Rebecca has worked as a homes and interiors journalist for over four years, and is currently the Deputy Editor on Ideal Home online. Previously, she was the News Editor across the Future homes and gardens brands, including Gardeningetc.com. She lives in a rented flat in South London where she makes the most of window boxes to create small container gardens. Inside she has a jungle of houseplants in nearly every room which she does her best to keep up with regular watering and repotting.