Let the Grass Grow: how a Meadow Movement can save the bees and our health

  Cut grass is an outdated holdover from a time when yards were trimmed not by lawn mowers, but by grazing animals. As the population grows, larger and larger areas of our environment are filled with grass, and the chemicals and water required to maintain them. By doing this, we sustain a practice that is not only harmful to our environment, but also one that limits our ability to sustain healthy gut flora that keep us healthy.  It’s time we let go of the tradition of cut grass and make way for the Meadow Movement.

On a recent trip to visit Rudyard Kipling’s Naulakha estate in Vermont, I strolled through winding paths that were mowed through wild growing grasses and flowers. Different flowers were abundant in different areas of the lawn. Some were abuzz with bees while others hosted the rustling sounds of the wind or crickets.  

 The peaceful experience inspired the realization that what we need in this country is a Meadow Movement. In other words, let the grass grow! Mowing the lawn is not as desirable or innocuous as it may seem. 

Without being aware, we create danger for ourselves by limiting habitats for important pollinators like bees, birds and butterflies.  They are important for our food production and their decline has already led to food shortages. While no-one knows the exact cause of colony collapse of the honey bees, it is thought that habitat destruction and pesticides are large contributors.

  

The lush green lawn and white picket fence have long been idyllic symbols of the “American Dream”. But it’s high time we dream a new dream. Create a new “look”. 

 Picture these suburbs covered wildflowers, honey bees and butterflies. With our grass, we think we are creating what are desirable environments for our children with sprawling lawns. In reality, we are robbing them of the opportunity to explore unique spaces made up of varied plant and animal species. Providing meadows for children to play in, fuels creativity and awareness of the diversity of life on this planet. Growing lawns, especially chemically treated, limits their immune systems by not exposing them to healthy bacteria (microbiome) that are protective for their minds, their guts, and their overall health. 

How do we create a Meadow Movement?

   
 Here are some ideas to make the Meadow Movement work for you:

  1. Let your grass grow and see what happens. It might take time to evolve but you might be surprised to see the volunteer plants that come up.
  2. Research plants that are native to your area as these will usually grow the best in your climate with limited water use. Consider visiting a local gardening club, nursery or botanical garden to get ideas. 
  3. Seed sections of your lawn with an assortment of wildflowers and grasses. Day Lillies are great spreaders and add a pop of color and fill. Grab some plants from friends. Throw in a smattering of mosquito repelling plants like lemon grass. 
  4. Mow paths through the flowers with larger patches closer to the house for walking, playing or sitting to listen to your bee and bird co-habitants. 
  5. Do it little by little. Even a little makes a difference so don’t feel like you have to go all in from the start.
  6. Neighbors think you’re lazy for not mowing the lawn? Spread the word! Tell them about the Meadow Movement and why it’s important to your neighborhood, the future of your food, your children’s health, and the planet. 

  

  

 To learn more, you can explore other topics I have covered in this blog, such as the microbiome and the beneficial effects of nature on health and the immune system. 

Check out this extensive report from whitehouse.gov for details on creating sustainable landscaping for pollinators. 

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