Wildflowers such as dandelions, white and purple clover, violets, purple thistle, golden rod, loosestrife, etc., in yards and on the side of roads are carpets of color that appear each spring without being planted, watered, fertilized or pruned.
They are not only a welcome change from a black and white winter, but turn the sun into the first food for many insects and honeybees.
It is a fine line between letting your lawn grow, or being accused of being lazy and/or violating an ordinance. However, having a mowed, “green” lawn is one of the most destructive habits of our nation, which is not only starving the honeybee, but is also a killing field for many plants, animals, birds and insects.
Thankfully, there is a growing trend of having low-maintenance, tiny wild-plant and flower lawns. The advantages of these lawns include adding colors and texture, fragrance, oxygen and food to our living, breathing planet.
The way to start doing this is by mowing at 5-6 inches, which is above the white clover, dandelions, violets and natural ground covers. Unfortunately, many older mower models only go as high as 3.5 inches; however, if you look, new ones go up to 6-8 inches. Or you can possibly modify your existing mower with larger tires. The key to a great looking lawn is not how short or tall it is, but keeping it “leveled,” regardless of height.
For people who like (or need) order, it is easy to start in small areas like fence lines, ditches, hard-to-mow hills, out-of-sight backyards, etc. Many lawn care companies also sell dandelion (which, like all plants, have a season that often is only a few weeks) clover (and now mini clover) and other ground cover flower seeds for low yard maintenance that look good and feed our insects and bees.
Long, spindly, not-so-pretty buckhorns are also a love and favorite of honeybees, and make a beautiful whitish pollen and honey. Bees and insects also love tree blossoms such as apple, cherry, honey locust (not the invasive Black locust tree), etc., but these blossoms only last during the spring, and the insects and bees need food from our (often-unused) yards to make it through the summer and the winter.
Realizing that mowing your lawn too short or spraying any unused “weeded” areas are some of the biggest killers of the honeybee, (garden) spiders, tomato worms and many other insects, is the first step in solving this global problem. Roads, plowed fields and over-construction are also to blame (man is the most destructive and invasive species of all), but this is one big difference we can all make, and as easy as mowing 5 inches or higher.
Not only have I learned to love all these so-called “weeds” (a word that doesn’t belong in any language), but for the ones that I don’t love, it is important to remember that everything has its season and usually lasts only four to six weeks.
In turn, may we all appreciate the beauty and colors of all wildflowers, which are welcome gifts of spring and summer, and give food, oxygen and life to our living, breathing and conscious planet — the only one there is.