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'No Mow May' draws mixed reactions from Cleveland Heights residents

City discouraging lawn mowing to help pollinators
05-23-23 NO MOW MAY.jpg
Posted at 10:29 PM, May 23, 2023

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Since the Cleveland Heights mayor announced the city’s participation in No Mow May, it’s been something of a growing controversy.

“I don’t think we’re obsessed with lawn care as much as some other neighborhoods,” laughed David Mahoney as he cut the grass of his corner lot home Tuesday evening.

Mahoney and many of his neighbors have been maintaining their lawns as usual this spring. But other homes around Cleveland Heights are forgoing regular grass cutting during the month of May.

“It seemed like an interesting idea,” said Reese Dehan. “Obviously, it doesn’t hurt to do and it was worth a try.”

On May 3, Mayor Khalil Seren announced Cleveland Heights’ participation in No Mow May. An executive order explained the city would not be enforcing lawn-related ordinances and it would restrict mowing of public properties and medians for the entire month.

No Mow May, which was first popularized in Europe, encourages a pause on mowing for the month of May. The goal is to allow flowers to bloom in yards so early pollinators have access to diverse food sources at a time of year when they may be limited.

“Biodiversity is important for the survival of all species. We work in an interconnected way,” said Seren during an interview with CNN this week.

The Dehan family participated in the initiative for three weeks until the ankle-length grass became a stumbling block for their toddler and a hindrance for their dog.

“Our dog refused to go poop in the backyard. So that was like the end of it,” laughed Brenna Dehan.

The initiative has drawn criticism from others who worry unkempt lawns could attract pests and become eyesores in neighborhoods.

“I know that the bees are important to the environment. However, people did ‘No Mow April’ and then rolled that right into No Mow May. So you have some properties, especially if they’re abandoned, that are a little out of control,” said Kelly Menaker.

The city tells News 5 it will still issue citations for properties that become a nuisance or a clear health and safety concern.

Some research from Europe and North America found mowing less often contributes to an increase in pollinators like bees and butterflies. Likewise, other research found more intensely manicured lawns resulted in a negative effect on plant and insect diversity

In addition to limiting lawn mowing, Cleveland Heights is also taking other environmentally-friendly steps, like replacing the city council’s styrofoam cups with reusable bottles.

“No Mow May is not intended to be an end all be all. It’s intended to be, as they say, a gateway into what we can do differently in order to work a little bit more cooperatively with our environment,” said Seren.

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