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No Mow Month Overview and Benefits

March 3, 2023
Photo: Courtesy of suziesue_00 on Flickr

By Joe Chapman

*Update: Please see the 2024 No Mow Month event page for current information about registration.

This spring, you might notice your neighbors’ grass growing tall. No need to worry, this may be on purpose! Households across Nashville are pledging to let their lawns grow as part of No Mow Month – and you can join too! 

In recent years, cities and states across the country have been participating in an initiative called No Mow May, first popularized by the UK based organization PlantLife.The goal of the initiative is to encourage community members to stop mowing their lawns during the month of May. While this practice may seem negligent to those used to cutting their grass, it actually holds many benefits for water quality, soil health, and pollinators!

The Cumberland River Compact understands the connections among healthy lawns and our water quality. In many cases, converting our yards to reflect what the native habitats looked like before urbanization leads to conservation benefits that help our waterways and ecosystems thrive. For these reasons, the Compact is excited to launch a number of “rewilding” initiatives throughout Nashville to promote the benefits of returning spaces to their native landscapes. 

Help us rewild Nashville this Earth Month by giving your mower a rest and participating in No Mow Month!

Read on to learn more about No Mow Month, its benefits, and how to get involved in the initiative.

What is No Mow Month?

No Mow Month is a program that allows individuals to take part in becoming stewards of the environment simply by letting their grass grow! 

Throughout the entire month of April, the Cumberland River Compact is encouraging residents of Davidson county to let their grass grow tall. Participating households will pledge to abstain from cutting their grass during the month of April.

Participants will receive a free No Mow Nashville sign that will let your neighbors know of your participation in the program and outline the benefits of letting your grass grow.

*We are partnering with Metro Nashville on this project; as long as residents keep their grass below 12 inches in height and visibly display their No Mow signs in their yards, they will be in compliance with Metro’s High Grass and Weeds code. Residents are encouraged to check HOA guidelines to ensure compliance with additional neighborhood regulations.

Register For No Mow Month

What are the Benefits of Participating in No Mow Month and Letting your Grass Grow?

Popular American myth would lead you to believe that a highly-groomed, weed-free lawn is the ideal landscaping standard. While this image dominates our psyche of what a “good lawn” should look like, the reality is that the standard turf grass lawn actually takes up a lot of resources and isn’t good for the environment. 

Every year, lawn care across the US results in the use of 3 trillion gallons of water, 200 million gallons of gas, and 70 million pounds of pesticides. 

Letting your grass grow is a first step you can take in reversing these negative impacts and promoting healthy backyard (or frontyard!) habitats. Taller grass leads to improved water quality, reduced carbon emissions, and increased pollinator activity.

Improve Water Quality

Courtesy of @akaCJ on Flickr

There is a direct link between the length of grass and water quality. As grass grows taller, its roots grow deeper. The deep roots break up the soil around them, allowing for water to infiltrate the ground more easily. This increased capacity for water infiltration leads to several water quality benefits.

Longer grass can reduce runoff by absorbing more water during rain events. This can help prevent soil erosion and reduce the amount of sediment and nutrients that enter nearby waterways. 

The long grass’ increased ability to allow water to infiltrate into the soil can also help recharge groundwater supplies and reduce the amount of water that runs off into nearby streams and rivers. 

Healthy lawns in Nashville lead to healthier waterways!

Reduce Carbon Emissions

Courtesy of @brainwise on Flickr

Did you know that 1 hour of commercial lawn mower use can emit as much smog-forming pollution as driving 300 miles in a car? That’s more than a trip from Nashville to Chattanooga – and back! 

A month-long break from mowing could help Nashville significantly reduce our carbon emissions, leading to cleaner air and a healthier environment. When it’s time to replace your current lawn care equipment, consider purchasing an electric lawn mower and string trimmer.

Attract Pollinators

Courtesy of @Lodigs on Flickr

Allowing your grass to grow can provide a greater variety of flowering plants that are typically considered “weeds”, like dandelions and clovers. These “weeds” actually act as important sources of food for pollinators. 

This is especially critical in early spring at the start of the growing season! By letting the plants in your lawn grow, you’re also extending their flowering periods, which can help support pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and moths.

Get Involved

Interested in bringing the benefits of taller grass to your yard this April?

Sign up to participate in No Mow Month! Upon registration, you will receive a No Mow sign that signifies your participation and its benefits to your neighborhood and community!

Want to participate in conservation practices in your yard beyond No Mow Month? We are excited to launch more conservation yards programming this fall to promote native habitats and a healthier environment for Nashville! Sign up to receive more information and participate in our Pocket Prairies program this fall.

FAQs

 

  • Will I be fined by Metro Codes if I let my grass grow tall?

No! We are partnering with Metro Nashville on this project; as long as residents keep their grass below 12 inches in height and visibly display their No Mow signs in their yards, they will be in compliance with Metro’s High Grass and Weeds code.

Residents are encouraged to check HOA guidelines to ensure compliance with additional neighborhood regulations.

  • What do I do at the end of No Mow Month? 

When it does come time to mow your grass at the end of April, be sure to have a weed eater handy for the first passover. The grass may be too long for your mower to handle. 

  • How do I get involved beyond No Mow Month?

Sign up for our Pocket Prairies program, launching this fall! 

  • I am interested in learning more about the benefits of No Mow- where can I find more information?

Follow these links for more information about the benefits of letting your grass grow and other No Mow projects

 

Register For No Mow Month

 


Joe Chapman is the Green Infrastructure Program Manager at the Cumberland River Compact, where he leads the Compact’s efforts to install green infrastructure projects across Nashville. He also leads the Compact’s Depave Program, restoring Nashville’s developed, impervious surfaces back to green spaces. Joe has a degree in Public Affairs and Urban Sustainability from Wayne State University and is a Certified Green Infrastructure Professional through the NGICP. Originally from Michigan, Joe lives in Nashville with his girlfriend, Hannah, where he enjoys hiking, camping, and disc golf.