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Posts Tagged ‘#LifeisBetterWithBees’

We’ve reached the point where most people are aware that pollinators need help, that traditional grass lawns do little to support bees and other wildlife, add to pollution, waste water, and contribute to a host of other environmental problems. 

I have mentioned that I am not a big fan of grass lawns. We also know that Mrs. Mannerly (not her real name) down the street will give us stink eye if we don’t toe the weed-whacked, chemical-laced, 2-inch tall, monoculture turf line.

What’s the answer?

Partly, it’s changing what we grow, and we’re adding pollinator-friendly plants as much as we can. But until we’re ready to completely upend the lawn paradigm, we need better ways to deal with the grass we have.

And we’re hoping to bring our little corner of the world along for the ride.

* * *

When Mr Man and I moved to this charming area a decade ago, a typical weekend was filled with the roar of lawn mowers. One fellow a few doors down sported a first-generation corded mower, but for the most part our new neighbors were all about gas.

Garage doors would open each Saturday morning to show off rows of gas-powered mowers, bright red gas canisters, leaf blowers and battle-hardened lawn trimmers. Our morning walks often required us to step gingerly around streams of spilled fuel and shout to be heard over the racket. 

No more.

Sure, that one neighbor with the riding mower still manages to spend a large proportion of his afternoon outside, but that might have more to do with his home life than his landscaping needs.

Otherwise, a remarkable sense of peace has taken over our street.

As new homeowners standing in front of the row of mowers at Home Depot, gas power did not appeal. We picked up a battery-powered unit that played well with our other power tools. The unit was light, easy to use, quick, quiet, cut well and, perhaps most impactfully, was a bright fluorescent green.

The neighbors noticed. The couple across the street watched us for months, then asked about it. It took time, but eventually they converted to an electric mower. Other neighbors on afternoon walks eyed us up as we mowed. Several years in we noticed another handful of neighbors had made the change as well. As minds changed the trend continued to spread.

Now a decade in, it’s hard to find a neighbor with a gas mower, and that’s terrific. 

* * *

What’s the next challenge? Our neighbors still mow early and often. The good news is that the city lets our extensive network of road separators grow bumper crops of dandelions. Bright yellow carpets fill the streets (and feed the bees) for weeks. Still, private lawns account for a substantial amount of acreage* and could be key to turning the tide for bees and the rest of our unpaid pollinator workforce.

“When you run the numbers, it turns that almost anything is better than a grass lawn — except pavement.” 

Lawns are the No. 1 irrigated ‘crop’ in America. They need to die.

Take No Mow May. This movement started in Britain but quickly jumped the Pond to North America. 

What Is No Mow May | Better Homes & Gardens

No Mow May isn’t about laziness (although that is a side benefit); it’s about helping the bees.

Also laziness. Whatever works for you, no judgement!

No Mow May: 8 Reasons to Let Your Lawn Grow This Month – Bob VIla

When it comes to spring yard work, what if you could actually do more by doing less? By participating in No Mow May, you’ll spend less time, money, and energy on your lawn while helping to improve the planet.

I’m hoping that at least some of our neighbors will realize, as we have, that in the case of mowing, less is definitely more.

Why You May Not Want to Mow the Lawn This Weekend

* * *

I hope our shift to an electric mower had some small local impact but it’s not just us, of course. The folks around the corner switched to a xeriscaped yard and posted signs about helping pollinators. The world is noticing that the pollinators need change and wants to help. The question is now less about “what” and more about how to do it in ways that work with the world we have.

So this year I’m supporting my local eco organizations, planting native flowers, and braving potential side-eye from Mrs. Mannerly across the street. 

Who knows? Next time I see her across my bee-filled yard, she might even smile.

* * *

* For example, lawns can be counted as the single largest “crop” in the U.S. and are estimated to take up over 400 million acres in the U.S. And they don’t even taste good!

* * *

Photo by Stefan Steinbauer on Unsplash

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Today I’m applauding my mother, who wants to build a pollinator garden. What a fantastic idea, and one supported by the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, Honey Nut Cheerios (for obvious reasons), and many others.

She’s interested in planting a series of native plant species that will flower from early to late growing season and support bees and other pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds. And it doesn’t have to be a large-scale project to make a difference.

I’ve talked about bees here before but the point deserves emphasis: we need them. Which is why this week I’m lauding the pest control company Ortho for removing neonics, the neonicotinoid-based pesticides linked to wide-scale bee deaths, from their outdoor products. Here’s hoping other companies follow suit soon with this and other bee-friendly strategies, before this Whole Foods nightmare becomes a terrible coffee, chocolate and fruit-free nightmare. Coffee, people!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BEI1JFTqNfU/

Dandelions are pretty (and if you don’t agree there are more targeted ways to get rid of them), weeding is good exercise, and seventy-five percent of US fruits, nuts and vegetables are pollinated by bees. And killing off millions of enthusiastic workers doing their jobs for free seems awfully self-defeating.

Why care about pollinators? Personally, I like bees, and I like food. I like to imagine a future filled with more possibilities, not less.

I also care because we’re more dependent on nature than we like to think. Because a future of limited food and little variety is a recipe for human and natural disaster (also? bland!). And because I don’t want to spend my declining years describing the rich red taste of ripe strawberries to children who have no idea what I’m talking about.

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🐛 #NationalGardenMonth #milkweed #monarchs

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