SCARBOROUGH — There’s something missing in Pete Slovinsky’s yard.

The town of Scarborough is giving out lawn signs encouraging residents to skip mowing, or do less mowing, in May to avoid dandelions and other wild flowers from being mowed down. Bonnie Washuk/Staff Writer

There are loads of dandelions, tall grass, lots of busy bees and even a new lawn sign courtesy of the town of Scarborough. What’s missing is his lawnmower.

Slovinsky is taking part in what has become known as “No Mow May,” and the town is giving out lawn signs to encourage more participation.

Scarborough has joined a number of other Maine communities that urge residents to give their mowers the month off, so emerging bees can can stock up on food sources. Scarborough’s signs carry the message: “No Mow May – it’s all about the buzz.”

The city of Auburn has also embraced No Mow May, and residents have planted yard signs all over, according to the city. Auburn Public Works crews will not mow during May, the city said.

Allowing the growth of taller grass and wild flowers – including dandelions – provides nectar and pollen that help bees thrive.


The movement started in the United Kingdom but gained traction across the United States. According to the town of Appleton, Wisconsin, the first city in the United States to sponsor “No Mow May” in 2020, a study found that unmown lawns had more wild flowers and five times the number of bees.

Slovinsky said he planted the sign in his yard to raise awareness about how yards and lawns can serve as habitats for wildlife, and native flowers are key to all kinds of pollinators. Less mowing gives more time for flowers to bloom.

He said he doesn’t mow much, and he no longer uses a gas-powered lawnmower when he does, instead pushing a “reel mower” that’s human-powered. Slovinsky, a member of the town’s Scarborough Conservation Commission, said No Mow May is related to using less pesticides in favor of organic lawn-care methods. Using less pesticides is better for the environment and people, Slovinsky said, as well as the Scarborough Marsh, “where everything ends up after heavy rain.”

This year is the first time that Scarborough has promoted No Mow May.

“We’ve had pretty good response from the community,” said Jami Fitch, the town’s sustainability coordinator. Because it’s the first year of the initiative, the town generated a modest number of 50 lawn signs. As of last week, the town was nearly out of signs. When people have stopped at the town hall to pick up a sign, people have expressed excitement about the initiative, she said.

“The only negativity we’ve heard has come from some comments on the town’s No Mow May Facebook posts,” Fitch said. Most posts were positive saying they endorsed the movement. One resident said they would continue to mow their lawn, and another said ticks would love longer grass.


Fitch said if ticks are a worry, residents could mow a shorter, 3-foot border between woods and the lawn, just mow the areas closest to the home, or designate a “no-mow” area on a lawn and mow the rest as normal. “There’s no hard and fast rules for No Mow May,” Fitch said in an email. “We’re asking people to do what they’re comfortable with.”

Scarborough has taken a soft approach to the initiative. For residents who don’t want tall grass in their yards, the town suggests mowing only once or twice during May. That would allow wild flowers to bloom and provide food for pollinators. Another suggestion is to create a section of their lawn that’s not mowed in May.

Other ways to help pollinators are to add white clover, creeping thyme and low-growing flowers. Like a number of other municipalities, the town is suggesting residents stop using weed and bug killers.

“These products kill both pests and the beneficial bugs in your yard,” according to the town’s “buzz” letter. Products that kill bugs can also kill children and pets and pollute the ground water.

In Portland, the city supports No Mow May and is not mowing in some city parks to create urban meadows.

Portland is also encouraging residents to “Mow Tall ‘Till Fall.” When the grass grows to 3 or 4 inches, it creates a healthier lawn with deeper grass roots and allows pollinators to thrive on flowering weeds. Additionally, grubs and other lawn pests are less likely to be an issue with longer grass and healthier roots.

Troy Moon, Portland’s sustainability director, said the city will host webinars in June, July and August that will focus on how to create bird-friendly yards, use native plants and build healthy soils. The last event will be held in person at Deering Oaks park in September.

More information about those events will soon be posted, Moon said.

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