No Mow May
About the program
The City of Northfield is participating in No Mow May. This is a program where residents do not mow their lawns in May to support pollinator habitat during the critical transitional period from spring to summer.
The City is testing this program for one year by temporarily suspending enforcement portions of its turf and weed ordinances. Staff and the City Council will review the success of the program. If successful, this program could be expanded in future years to include other properties in Northfield.
Who can participate
This is open to residential, owner-occupied properties and renters with landlord consent. This is not open to business or city-owned greenspace.
How to participate
- Register your property
- Refrain from mowing your lawns during the month of May, or limit mowing to once or twice during the month before dandelions go to seed and after white clover blooms. The City will refrain from enforcing weed and lawn height ordinances for residents who participate.
- Display the "No Mow May" sign in your yard or on your home, in plain view from the street, to educate other residents and promote the program.
Deadline to register
Registration closes May 15, 2023. Yard signs are first come first served.
Residents can pick up one free reusable yard sign for their registered address from the Information window (Community Development) at City Hall, 801 Washington Street.
Missed out on Northfield's No Mow May signs? Participants can print a free sign from Bee City USA's No Mow May to display.
If you download and print your own sign, remember to register your address to be exempt from enforcement of the city code.
Returning to turf and weed ordinances
Lawns must be mowed back to required heights and ordinance enforcement after June 1. On June 1, the city will allow a 2-week grace period for participating properties to come into compliance before taking enforcement action. Full enforcement will return on June 12, 2023.
Participating in No Mow May supports all of Minnesota's pollinators - Minnesota pollinators include native bees, butterflies, ants, flies, beetles, birds and more!
Avoid mowing in early spring and during the month of May to protect overwintering or early season habitat for threatened bee populations and other pollinators, while allowing flowering plants to grow rich in nectar and other key nutrients that serve as food for our pollinator friends during a time when needed most.
By joining No Mow May, you can help support the health and diversity of native pollinator populations by providing the resources needed for pollinators to thrive.
- Saving water while increasing drought tolerance: Taller grass tends to have deeper roots and less water evaporates from the soil.
- Reduce air and noise pollution from gas-powered lawn equipment
- Better conditions for other invertebrates like lacewings and fireflies. They prefer longer grass.
- Save time and money
Noxious plants and weeds
Prohibited noxious weeds are annual, biennial, or perennial plants that have been designated as having the potential or are known to be detrimental to human or animal health, the environment, public roads, crops, livestock or other property.
- Garlic mustard: can impede natural forest regeneration by producing chemicals that reduce the growth of other plants.
- Common tansy: form dense cover and degrade pastures, impede reforestation efforts, and outcompete native plants.
- Amur silver grass: an ornamental grass that can spread vegetatively through horizontal stems growing below the soil surface to form dense patches that crowd out other species.
Learn more about the invasive plants that are threatening Minnesota and what you can do to help by visiting the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Pollinators help plants that bring us food and other resources. By carrying pollen from one plant to another, pollinators fertilize plants and allow them to make fruit or seeds. Pollinator health is critical to our food system and the diversity of life across the world.
Bees are one of the most well-known pollinators, but there are a variety of other pollinators including ants, flies, beetles, birds and more!
Contributing to pollinator friendly environment
Each of us can contribute to pollinator friendly environments.
- Plant flowers with pollen and nectar.
- Create habitat and nesting sites for pollinators.
- Eliminate the use of pesticides that are dangerous to pollinators.
Pollinator friendly plants
- Butterfly weed: attracts a handful of butterfly species with this long lasting, vibrant bloomer.
- Wild bergamot: provides a lot of nectar. Great for observing and photographing bumble bees!
- Hoary vervain: attractive to native bees and butterflies. Hosts at least one specialist bee.
- Golden Alexanders: a pollen and nectar source for early emerging bees during spring.
- Purple prairie clover: great for observing native bees collect pollen. Look for vibrant orange pollen on bees’ legs and underside!
How to keep your lawn pollinator friendly year-round
- Mow less: adjust from mowing your lawn every single week, or even multiple times a week to mowing every 2 to 3 weeks. Mowing stresses your grass and creates unhealthy lawns if mowed too frequently.
- Mow higher: consider keeping your lawn 3.5 to 4.5 inches in height and remove only 1/3 of the grass height when mowing. Taller grass holds more moisture, is less prone to stress, and better hides plants like clover and dandelion that pollinators need.
- Leave the grass clippings on the lawn to help improve the soil quality and minimize runoff. Avoid letting the clippings collect in the curb and gutter area especially near storm drains which can negatively impact water quality.
- Water your lawn ¼-inch to 1-inch depending on the soil type per week in the early morning or late evening, and avoid watering during rain events. Sandy soils need more water than clay soils.
- Water your lawn deeply and infrequently. This will prevent disruption of the pollinators and other insects and the lawn will be less stressed during periods of drought.
- Allow some flowering plants to persist in your lawn; tolerate clover and dandelions. To provide plenty of food sources from spring and throughout fall, avoid weeding your entire yard – no need to pull up all those ‘evil’ patches of clover or rid your lawn of all those ‘pesky’ dandelions. These are a favorite food source for many of MN’s threatened pollinators, including several bee species.
- Limit or cease use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Use organic sources sparingly instead.
- Ready to re-seed your grass lawn? Consider prioritizing fine fescue over Kentucky bluegrass. Fine fescue is slow growing and more drought tolerant, while KY bluegrass requires more frequent mowing and watering.
History of No Mow May
The Northfield Environmental Quality Commission presented to the City Council and the Council adopted the resolution supporting No Mow May on April 4, 2023.
No Mow May was first introduced in the UK by a British conservation charity, where it has become a standing tradition for the past decade. Appleton, Wisconsin was the first U.S. city to adopt No Mow May in 2020 after a professor in biology brought it to his city council to use as research. The research conducted in Appleton was compelling enough for nine additional Wisconsin suburbs, and two Minnesota cities (Rochester and West St. Paul) to adopt No Mow May in 2021; followed by several other Minnesota cities in 2022.
The research found that participating homes had more diverse and abundant flora, three times higher number of bee species and five times higher bee abundance than nearby parks that had been mowed.
Guidance and possible cost-share funding/support grants for residents who would like to install or convert to a pollinator-friendly lawn: