April 18 2023

No Mow May: What You Need To Know About This Initiative

JUNE 1, 2023 UPDATE: Thank you for supporting pollinators and the environment by participating in Ferndale's first No Mow May. We are proud to announce that over 700 households registered for the program in 2023. Please note that as of June 1, enforcement of City code that limits grass height to no greater than 7 inches will resume. Now that you have had May to view your yard in a different way, we want to be sure that you end with a positive outcome. If you set out a lawn sign, be sure to remove it as well, and store it for reuse next year!

The City will participate in No Mow May this May, a pollinator-friendly and environmentally-friendly initiative that suspends grass and weed enforcement for the month of May. Mowing less for the month of May will allow pollen-producing plants to grow to increase nectar for bees and other pollinators. A lack of mowing also means less power usage, which reduces emissions and noise pollution from lawnmowers. It also reduces soil compaction and offers greater infiltration of stormwater. Plus, you get to take a month off of mowing your lawn! Spend time with other areas of your garden (like adding native plants!), or just simply sit back and relax.

Mid-Month Check-In and Mowing Instructions

May 18 Update: Don't forget—the City's grass and weed enforcement begins on June 1, which marks the time when lawn grass cannot be longer than 7". Make sure to think ahead, especially in consideration of weather or travel delays that may prevent you from mowing.

As a reminder, City code requires the following enforcements:

  • Lawn and easement grass must be mowed or trimmed to 7" or lower in height.
  • If you own a property—even if you don't live there—you are required by ordinance to keep it free of weeds/grass higher than 7".
  • Lawn/grass and weed ordinances are enforced from June 1 to October 31 for 2023.
  • Don't wait until you're issued a warning (or worse, a citation)!

The lawn mowing process is going to be a bit tricky given that lawns are probably very long. Just remember, patience is key, and take the process slow to navigate the process easily. The best way to cut long grass is to do it gradually and often. For the healthiest and most sustainable approach, Michigan State University Extension says 3.5 to 4 inches is the most desirable length. Mowing at a higher height provides valuable benefits, which can be read here.

Grass should not be cut all at once. Grass uses its leaves to trap sunlight (like a solar panel) to power the process of photosynthesis and the production of food. Grass leaves also store this food as water which is used in times of stress. Cutting it all off at once will rob the grass of its stored food supply and take away its ability to produce more food.

Ideally, lawn length should be removed in thirds; only one-third should be removed in a single mowing. Cutting the grass too short all at once will stress out and damage your grass. Lawnmowers should be set to the highest setting, and weed wackers are encouraged for the first use. This will reduce the height and thickness and allow your lawnmower to move with ease.

After you've cut your lawn, there will be a lot of grass clippings left over. Be sure to gather them and set them out with your yard waste collection in brown kraft bags or labeled yard waste containers. Leaving the clippings can smother your grass, which can cause additional issues.

Just remember: take it slow. A slower pace will cause less stress on your grass. While it may be a time-consuming process, it's the best way to keep your lawn healthy!

How do I participate in the program?

Residents are highly encouraged to register for the program here. Lawn signs are available for pickup at Ferndale City Hall on a first-come-first-serve basis to those who have registered.

Will I get a ticket?

No, code enforcement standards for grass and weeds will be suspended for the month of May only. However, June will operate as normal.

Am I required to participate?

No, this program is completely voluntary. You are welcome to participate and stop mowing altogether, or even partially or less often than usual—whatever you prefer. You are not required to adjust your lawn mowing schedule in any way if you would prefer not to.

Why is the City doing this?

The City of Ferndale is proud to join a number of other municipalities in the No Mow May initiative. Ferndale City Council unanimously approved the Resolution to Adopt May 2023 as No Mow May—a resolution to support the No Mow May Initiative. No Mow May is supported by the Environmental Sustainability Commission as one of the goals of the FESC is to communicate City Sustainability initiatives such as the Plan Ferndale Climate Action Plan.

*The No Mow May initiative does not apply to violations of the ordinance that affects public safety under Ferndale City Code ORD 992 SEC 20-39. Vegetation must be maintained to ensure an unaccompanied minor, a person in a wheelchair, and a person walking a bike can be adequately visible to a driver. Vegetation must not intrude on the right of way in such a manner as to create a hazard for pedestrians using the sidewalk.

Delay mowing of lawns through the month of May to allow emergence and maturation of pollinators that overwinter in grassy open spaces and below trees.

  • Increase available early-season flowers that provide pollen and nectar for pollinators.
  • Reduce compaction of soil from lawnmowers and allow greater infiltration of stormwater.
  • Reduce emissions from fossil fuel-based lawnmowers.
  • Reduce noise pollution from lawnmowers.
  • Allow property owners some additional leisure time to consider planting a planned natural landscape and incorporate more native flowers onto their property.

It’s also important to note that native plants benefit and support local birds and wildlife. Natural landscaping creates ideal conditions for hummingbirds, honeybees, and butterflies—all of which are extremely beneficial to our ecosystem and are currently in decline nationwide. Learn more about how to incorporate native landscaping into your yard by scrolling down on this page.

Click here to learn more about the program or contact the Zero Waste Coordinator at zerowaste@ferndalemi.gov.