Minnesota Gets It Right

Here’s a good use of state tax dollars for ya:

Minnesota just allocated nearly a million dollars in incentives for people to transform their lawns into bee-friendly wildflowers, clover and native grasses.

The state is asking citizens to stop spraying herbicide, stop mowing so often, and let their lawns re-wild into a more natural state.

The goal is to provide “food sources for pollinators of all kinds, but will specifically aim at saving the rusty patched bumblebee, a fat and fuzzy species on the brink of extinction

I reduced the size of the lawn when I owned my own single-detached home. I specifically replanted a good portion with wildflowers and scattered moss through a very large portion of the rest of the lawn. The moss is incredibly good in the PNW: it holds quite a lot of moisture, so the grass can’t grow very fast (and rarely goes to seed), but it also can’t dry out too much because there’s a point where the balance tips and the grass is dry enough it can steal water from the moss instead of the other way round.

Moss doesn’t work everywhere, and neither do prairie plants, but looking for the plants native to your area before human development and planting them can make your land (should you have any) more beautiful and lower-maintenance. Sure, it might mean that less area is available for soccer or picnics, but is that what you were using the yard for before? And are there no nearby parks in which to do those things? At my old house, I was one block away from a manicured city park with lots and lots of grass. There was no need to keep any at my house. (I really did so only because of local laws that at the time prohibited natural yardscapes b/c neighbors were worried about their lawns getting weeds from untended properties.


  1. Jenora Feuer says

    There has been an active push in Toronto over the last few years to get people to keep milkweed in their yard to help the monarch butterfly population. This is on top of suggesting pollinating plants in general. It’s started seriously paying off recently.

    I hadn’t thought of moss myself; I should look into it. (And I need to get a tree planted in the back yard again soon anyway.)

  2. lumipuna says

    Here in suburban Finland, both public and private lawns are generally so poorly maintained I can’t imagine anyone using herbicides on them outside of golf courses (those are an environmental abomination).

    (AFAIK herbicides are sometimes used in spots to kill weeds under ornamental trees and bushes)

    In many places, the lawn grasses struggle to survive due to careless trampling, poor soil and winter snowpiling. Quite often, there’s more low-growing weeds and/or moss than actual grass. On dry summers,our lawns mostly turn yellow and stop growing, and nobody bothers to mow them. Then, you can often see drought-resistant weeds flowering all over the place. In shaded areas, lawns tend to be gradually taken over by mosses, without and despite any human guidance.

    Of course, a poorly kept lawn is a poor substitute for an actual flower meadow. Still, I can’t imagine the kind of ecological desert where people actually expect to not get weed seeds on their lawns (not from neighbors, but also not from roadsides, pavement cracks etc.).

  3. springa73 says

    Lumipuna @3

    Unfortunately from an environmental standpoint, lots of people in the US look at golf courses as the standard they should aspire to for their own private lawns. Comparing someone’s lawn to a golf course would be taken as great praise by quite a few people.

    I mow my own lawn but otherwise don’t bother with fertilizers or herbicides. As a result, it is pretty patchy, with some mossy areas in the more shaded spots. Part of it is environmental concern, part is just not caring about a perfect lawn.

  4. ardipithecus says

    I mow my lawn high enough that the clover has lots of flowering space. My yard has plenty of bumblebees in summer.

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