City of Mankato joins the 'No Mow May' movement

Rochester, about to begin its third "No Mow May," was the trendsetter among Minnesota communities but numerous others have joined last year and this.

The city of Mankato has joined a growing list of communities adopting “No Mow May,” in which city residents won’t face any citation for letting their grass grow through the month. The goal is to help bees and other pollinators start the summer season.
Forum News Service file photo

MANKATO — Mankato residents won't face pushback from the city if they refrain from mowing their lawns through early June — as long as they officially state that they're doing it out of respect for bees rather than general laziness.

The City Council unanimously voted Monday to join the growing "No Mow May" trend, aiming to make the start of the summer a little easier on bees and other pollinators.

Council President Mike Laven said a few residents have been suggesting Mankato become a "No Mow May" city for a couple of years, and he intended to formally propose the idea this year.

"I, unfortunately, looked at the calendar and thought 'Oh my gosh, it's almost May,'" Laven said, explaining the last-minute addition to the agenda.

Mother Nature, and most of the grass in the community, haven't gotten the message that Mankato's growing season is at hand. But if warm weather arrives, the grass does turn green and the blades start to stretch out, residents will not face any citations from the city for letting turf grow unhindered throughout the month.


The ordinance is still on the books defining as a nuisance "any weeds or grasses, whether or not noxious as defined by state law, growing to a height greater than twelve (12) inches, or which have gone or about to go to seed."

"What I'm asking of the council is to suspend the enforcement for the month of May," Laven said.

The council agreed, meaning no property owners will be receiving an order from the city in the next six weeks to get mowing or face financial penalties.

City Manager Susan Arntz said residents will need to register their "No Mow May" lawn with the city on its community engagement website — — if they want protection from a potential citation. That will also allow staff to explain to complaining neighbors that the towering waves of grass down the street are proof of a pollinator-loving rather than a yard work-hating homeowner.

The "No Mow May" movement began with the efforts of Plantlife, a conservation organization in the United Kingdom. The idea is that bees and other pollinators, springing back to action this time of year, desperately need a readily available food source. Unmowed lawns mean a few more dandelions and other weed flowers for the bugs to dine on.

Rochester, about to begin its third "No Mow May," was the trendsetter among Minnesota communities but numerous others have joined last year and this.

Mankato council members emphasized that "No Mow May" is permissive, not mandatory. Residents can still mow as often as they like. They just don't have to.

And the city's example will actually be more about traditional standards than pollinator protection. Manicured municipal parkland will be mowed as frequently as is necessary, with council members stating that they want the traditional grassy areas of city parks in good condition for grade school picnics, graduation receptions and Memorial Day family gatherings.


"There's an expectation of public spaces ...," Council member Karen Foreman said.

"I think we need to keep the clean look," Mayor Najwa Massad agreed.

Public Works Director Jeff Johnson said staff would consider leaving some areas unmowed in May. But Johnson said many spots beyond manicured parks will also need to be clipped, including ballfields, places with relatively new turf and airport property regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

(c)2022 The Free Press (Mankato, Minn.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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