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It's not too late for No Mow May

Virginia Tech turf grass expert Mike Goatley says it's okay to let grass grow for a couple of weeks.
Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech turf grass expert Mike Goatley says it's okay to let grass grow for a couple of weeks.

If you missed the memo about No Mow May, it’s not too late to do your part for pollinators. Cathy Caldwell is with the Piedmont master gardeners.

“Some new research was done that showed that if you don’t mow for about two weeks, that’s about the ideal,” she says.

And at Virginia Tech, turf grass expert Mike Goatley adds that letting the most common grass in Virginia grow too long, then cutting it short again makes the lawn unhappy.

“I’d like to see people growing tall fescue at 3-4 inches during the summer months as it is. Don’t scalp it back down. That could be one of the worst mistakes you can make to survive a Virginia summer.”

By this time of year, he adds, there are plenty of flowering plants for pollinators, and you will want to cut blooms on your lawn before applying any pesticides.

“Any of the chemistry now in the world of insecticides that might have the possibility of harming pollinators, it’s going to have special language on that label.”

Cathy Caldwell recommends getting rid of invasive plants that don’t feed local pollinators and creating a snack bar for bees.

“Just take out part of your yard, put in a pollinator garden, and it will be just as helpful if not more so. The Department of Conservation has a wonderful site for native Virginia plants. Are you looking at a moist area or a very dry area? You plug in some variables. They’ll give you a list of plants.”

And Goatley warns that letting grass grow too long invites neighbors you may not want.

“Ticks, rodents, snakes, all those creatures that like that taller grass, they’re not going to respect your property boundaries.”

For more information visit https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/native-plants-finder and https://ext.vt.edu/lawn-garden.html

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief