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Northbrook’s Village President made a proclamation in late April to declare this month as “No Mow May”. Until June 1, the Village of Northbrook is suspending enforcement of the Municipal Code for excessive grass height and is encouraging all residents to participate in our "No Mow" initiative to voluntarily delay mowing.
Any resident who wishes to participate can choose not to mow all or a portion of their property. The Village is participating on all Village-owned properties and spaces in Northbrook maintained by the Village. The Library and some Park District properties are participating as well.
Northbrook committed to the initative because of community concern about declining populations of wildlife due to habitat loss. “No Mow May” is to allow pollinators to safely emerge and early-flowering grasses and forbs to grow. The opportunity to establish beneficial insect populations (like our native bumblebees) is drastically reduced with early spring grass mowing.
The concept started as a citizen science project in the UK and has been adopted by several US organizations including Xerces. Appleton WI was an early adopter, and Westmont in IL started in 2021. Now there are many other villages in the Chicagoland area that have adopted or are considering adopting No Mow May or versions of it (like No Mow until Mothers’ Day). There are several research studies that can affirm the benefits of the program including one by the United States Forest Service in suburban Springfield, MA. USFS NoMow
A 2018 study from the USDA Forest Service found an association between delayed mowing in suburban spaces and an increased abundance and diversity of bee species. A 2020 study published in the National Library of Medicine yielded similar results looking at the town of Appleton Wisconsin that adopted a No Mow May proclamation, confirming pollinators make use of key floral resources during early spring in the Midwest.
No action is required to participate, but community members who wish to pick up a free pollinator yard sign and seed packet may do so by stopping by the front desk of Development and Planning on the second floor of Village Hall (1225 Cedar Lane).
Yes, every little bit helps!
You can mow some of it or all of it! This initiative is about habitat, but also about bringing attention to how we, as stewards of the land, can do things better, not only for pollinators, but also for ourselves. Studies indicate that the optimal mowing cycle to specifically benefit pollinators, is every two weeks. Even though the program is designed to go through May, you are not required to not mow the entire time. Some years No Mow May might be fine before the first mow, and other years it may be too much but that is a decision is for you to make on your own property or parts of your property.
Do what works for you! The following answer is in regard to how to best support pollinators:
If you have native landscaping but there are dandelions growing that may outcompete your native species, you should cut them!
If you and a lot of your neighbors have a classic turf grass, then wildlife will indeed use dandelions for food and nesting materials. Birds use dandelions for nests, and bees will gather dandelion pollen when other pollen is not available.
You can cut them. Dandelion seed heads have no further benefit to pollinators, so cut them down, but cut them high, as to not mow other flowers below them.
Ticks that carry Lyme disease are more likely to be found along forest edges compared to our residential lawns, but they can be found wherever there are suitable hosts. Because a benefit of natural landscaping is that it provides habitat for wildlife, attracting insects will also attract insect-eaters. As Northbrook continues to restore healthy ecosystems with sustainable practices, more tick-eating animals like birds and amphibians will be present. The best prevention against Lyme disease is proper clothing and a careful check of body and clothes after being in an area likely to have ticks.
Unmown grass does not typically begin to flower (which produces the pollen) until June or later in our area depending on the species. Your health is important – do what works best for you.
Participating properties are expected to comply with ordnance when the enforcement pause ends on June 1. The maximum height with enforcement is 8 inches.
No! Grass height restrictions only apply to non-native grasses, such as Kentucky Bluegrass that originates from Europe. Native grasses like bluestem, sedges, and ryes may grow to any height unless they are planted in an area that could interfere with visibility of motorists.