No Mow May!

An easy way to support native bees and create pollinator-friendly habitat in your backyard is to do nothing! We’re talking about No Mow May, an initiative to limit the mowing and clearing of your yard to promote healthy habitats for pollinators.

Bees are critically important pollinators to our local Southeastern Wisconsin ecosystem, and in the winter they hibernate in our yards: under leaf piles, sticks and branches, and in holes in the ground. If we clear our yards early, we may be eliminating these important pollinators before they have emerged from hibernation. A messy yard with last year’s leaves, stems and rock piles are a wonderful winter home for these essential pollinators. The other important reason to delay the yard cleanup every year is because our lawns naturally grow the resources that bees require to survive: including dandelions, clover, and naturally occurring spring flowers. If all we do is wait to mow our lawns, then bees will be given more time to have the food and resources they need to survive!

Make sure you check your local ordinances on lawn-height requirements and obey your city, village or town laws. If your neighborhood has such an ordinance, contact your representatives and let them know why it’s important to allow time for overwintering pollinators to emerge. Tell them why pollinators are so critically important to our yards and our wellbeing.

Remember, every yard is important and together we can all make a difference to save local pollinators! Scroll down to learn more about the science behind No Mow May, an endangered species supported by No Mow May, and other ways you can help.

No Mow May
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter throughout the month of May to learn more about pollinators, giveaways, and how you can help.

Growing Research

Research suggests that our urban gardens and lawns are a valuable, dependable resource for bumble bee populations – just as much as rural green spaces! By planting and growing native pollinator-friendly plants you are directly contributing to habitat restoration for the pollinators we depend on. The more homes that participate, the more habitat we are able to provide.

No Mow May encourages you to rethink yards and green spaces as habitat for pollinators, which is especially important because studies indicate that pollinator species have experienced significant population decreases (Zattara et al, 2021). A 2023 study of flowering lawns found that florally-enhanced lawns supported more diverse bee communities and more visitation by native bees (Wolfin, et al 2023). Converting monoculture green lawns into flowering spaces is one of the best ways to support pollinators in your backyard. For more information on what to plant, scroll down to find links to native plants lists.


Del Toro, I., & Ribbons, R. R. (2020). No Mow May lawns have higher pollinator richness and abundances: An engaged community provides floral resources for pollinators. PeerJ, 8, e10021.

Tew, N. E., Baldock, K. C., Vaughan, I. P., Bird, S., & Memmott, J. (2021). Turnover in floral composition explains species diversity and temporal stability in the nectar supply of urban residential gardens. Journal of Applied Ecology.

Wolfin, J., Watkins, E., Lane, I., Portman, Z. M., & Spivak, M. (2023). Floral enhancement of turfgrass lawns benefits wild bees and honey bees (Apis mellifera). Urban Ecosystems, 1-15.

Zattara, E. E., & Aizen, M. A. (2021). Worldwide occurrence records suggest a global decline in bee species richness. One Earth, 4(1), 114-123.

Support an Endangered Species!

Did you know that there might be an endangered species in your backyard No Mow Zone? The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee was placed on the Federal Endangered Species List after surveys found a 90% drop in population abundance. Previously, this bumble bee species used to be found in 31 US states, and has been reduced to 10 states in the Midwest region. Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois have been highlighted as priority habitat for Rusty Patched Bumble Bee conservation. There is still much we have to learn about this species, how they nest, and how we can conserve remaining populations. Go to the USFWS Rusty Patched Bumble Bee page to learn more about conservation efforts. Go to the Wisconsin DNR’s Bumble Bee Brigade page to find out how you can support community science observations and bumble bee ID.

Bumble bee conservation efforts     Help the DNR collect bumble bee data

Find out if your municipality has approved No Mow May!

Use the map and search for your address to find out if No Mow May has been approved in your town or municipality in Wisconsin. Zones colored in yellow do not require registration. Zones in the map colored in red do require you to register your home in order to participate. Follow the link to register your home and learn more about how your community is supporting No Mow May.

To use the map:

  1. Click on the search icon and enter your address. Make sure you include all letters, ex. include ‘st’ in ‘91st’ or ‘th’ in ‘5th.’
  2. To follow the municipal link to learn more, right-click anywhere on the screen in the municipal zone and then left-click the link.

Yellow = Registration not required.
Red = Registration is required to participate.

List of communities participating in No Mow May in Wisconsin

No registration required:

Cross Plains
Elm Grove
Fort Atkinson
Fox Crossing
Fox Point
Stevens Point
Whitefish Bay
Wisconsin Rapids

Registration required:

De Pere
Egg Harbor
Green Bay
La Crosse
Sun Prairie

This list is up to date as of April 15, 2023. If your community is participating and is not included, please contact us at to let us know.

How else can I help?

  1. Limit or eliminate the use of pesticides!
    For many years the traditional American green lawn has been viewed as the norm, but we’re trying to change that. The monoculture nature of the green lawn has little benefit for pollinators and biodiversity. Green lawns require constant maintenance and often will be treated with pesticides. Pesticides, especially neonicotinoids, are the greatest threat to pollinating wildlife including bees, butterflies, birds, and bats.
  2. Get in touch with your local representatives to learn how to change lawn-height requirements in your community!
    Many city departments and neighborhood associations have lawn requirements that limit the height of the grass in your yard. Because these rules vary depending on where you live, we recommend you look up the guidance in your area and contact your local officials to let them know how important pollinators are to our gardens. Join other community scientists in advocating for pollinator-friendly habitat and work to change lawn-height requirements in your community.
  3. Plant a pollinator-friendly garden!
    You can create sustainable habitat and food resources for pollinators by planting a variety of native plants for spring, summer, and fall! Below are links to resources you can use to help build a pollinator-friendly habitat in your own backyard.

    1. Wisconsin DNR’s Native Plants for Beginners List (spring, summer, and fall bloomers!)
    2. Wisconsin DNR’s list of Native Plant Nurseries (List of where to buy native pollinating plants!)
    3. Xerces Great Lakes Region Pollinator Plant Guide (PDF)
    4. Midwest Grows Green guide to growing environmentally friendly lawns and gardens (PDF)
  4. Pledge to protect pollinators past May.
    Take the Midwest Grows Green (MGG) pledge to create pollinator habitat and eliminate your use of harmful chemicals to pollinators. Pledge takers gain access to a monthly sustainable landscaping newsletter from our friends at MGG.

No Mow Zones

If you’ve recently visited the Milwaukee County Zoo, you may have noticed some areas around the Zoo indicating with signs that they are ‘No Mow Zones’. These Zones actually began seven years ago, when Milwaukee County Zoo Horticulturalists tried a new strategy for dealing with an unruly plot of land by letting it be. They replaced invasive plant species with low-mow grass species and created a self-sustainable plot. Over the years, hours of labor were eliminated, landscaping costs were cut and pollinators grew abundant in these zones. Some of the zones are filled with grass, some with flowers, all of them are bustling with bees, butterflies, moths, and birds. You can replicate this in your yard at home! By providing a smaller No Mow Zone plot in your yard, you can help conserve and support our local pollinators too.

Use our PDF yard sign design and create your own No Mow May yard sign!