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Planet CLE: Cleveland Heights mayor issues 'No Mow May' executive order

'No Mow May' is a trend that calls for all homeowners to hold out on mowing their lawns for the entire month.

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Spring is the season of rebirth. The flowers are blooming, the trees are sprouting their leaves, and the grass is definitely growing.

As the grass grows, we add another item to our chore list: mowing.

But in Cleveland Heights, the mayor has issued an executive order, declaring the city's participation in "No Mow May."

"This is not a command not to mow your lawn," explains Cleveland Heights Mayor Kahlil Seren. "This is the city cooperating with people who are interested in participating in No Mow May."

No Mow May is a trend that calls for all homeowners to hold out on mowing their lawns for the entire month. It started in the United Kingdom in 2019 and has been gaining popularity in the U.S. 

The moment encourages eco-consciousness.

"This is a way for us to encourage the kind of creative thinking about lawn and yard maintenace that can really have a deep impact on our eco-system," Seren adds.

If you let your grass and plants grow, the thought is that it helps pollinators like bees, butterflies, and birds -- giving them food and shelter early in the season. Advocates also say it helps save water and money, while reducing air and noise pollution.

Steve and Beth Cagan live in Coventry Village and say they support No Mo May. For years, they've opted out of a lawn for a garden, featuring plants and flowers all native to Ohio. 

"Sometimes people come by and say, 'oh, you decided to get rid of the grass because you want to save work?' No, this is much more work," explains Steve Cagan. "The basic idea for us is that we want to plant things that are native and we want to plant them first, because we just want to support what's around us. But also because its good for wildlife, insects, birds and microbes."

But not everyone agrees with the movement. Some residents weighed in on the city's Facebook page, saying they believe the method is the city's way of cutting costs. 

Yesterday, Mayor Kahlil Seren issued Executive Order 2023-002...

Posted by City of Cleveland Heights, Ohio - City Hall on Thursday, May 4, 2023

Some experts say there are better ways to do it. In fact, "The Impatient Gardner" blog wrote an entire post about the subject, saying in part, "A far better approach would be to encourage homeowners to turn a small patch of lawn into a proper native wildflower garden that will feed wild bees from spring through fall and be far more attractive than a shaggy lawn full of weeds. And, of course, to stop applying herbicides to their lawn. Or plant native trees that provide more food for pollinators than any lawn could. Or to incorporate native plants into their existing gardens.”

In support of the mayor's executive order, the city says it will suspend its tall grass code violation, unless there are health and safety concerns. All public properties owned by the city will participate in No Mow May. 


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