There is hope for the bees when there’s clover in the lawn. Researchers discovered that lawns in Springfield Massachusetts when cut every three weeks instead of weekly resulted in as many as 2.5 times more lawn flowers, mostly clover and dandelions, and a great diversity of 93 species of bees.
Thursday, May 20th is the sixth annual World Bee Day. Celebrate bees by joining with others in pledging not to spread quick-release fertilizer, herbicides or pesticides on your lawn. Toxins must follow the applied nutrients because grass is developing an addiction, is thinner with less fiber, easy forage for pests, while sunspills dry and bake the soil. Established lawns should not need fertilizing. They, like the grasslands of old, are quite capable of taking care of themselves.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources recommends one application of 100% slow-release fertilizer in the fall (one-half pound per thousand square feet of lawn). Do not apply quick-release fertilizer because it interferes with grass roots going down below the surface to establish symbiotic relationships with mycorrhizae fungi and bacteria. One application of Roundup will kill a quarter of the mycorrhizae. Lawn care companies should instead turn impervious surfaces to regenerative green grass and other plants.
Grass plants build soil, more than other plants, by exuding carbohydrates from roots. Sequestering liquid carbon in the ground, a healthy lawn can build as much as an inch of soil in a year. For one ton of soil, grass plants pull more than four tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. For an acre of lawn that is about 1,000 tons of CO2 turned into black loam.
For World Bee Day and every day, please invite people who have a lawn to join with us in pledging to better care for lawns with the optional use of 100% slow-release fertilizer and herbicidal “soaps.” Save money when letting the lawn go natural to benefit birds, bunnies and, especially for today, the bees.
In the spirit of high school football, we are scoring number of pledges group by group, town by town, and watershed by watershed. Wildlife benefits when a majority of the residents of a town or majority of inhabitants of a watershed volunteer to keep lawns and soil chemical-free.
Chemical-free lawns have many more than one species of grass and other low plants such as clover and dandelions that are bee pollinated.
Rabbits are an indication of a healthy lawn with a good mix of plants. Rabbits eat invasive weeds to help maintain a robust lawn ecosystem.
Robins are an indication of a green lawn with healthy soil complete with worms. Worms, springtails, ants, nematodes and smaller organisms move through the soil, digesting bits and opening up spaces for water. Four inches of soil beneath a lawn can hold seven inches of rain water. More worms, more water retention, less water runoff, erosion, and more water in cycling between plants and ground in your neighborhood.
We are calling for a full stop to spreading quick-release fertilizer on established lawns, full stop to nutrient pollution run off that feeds harmful algal blooms, and full stop to the bioaccumulation up the food chain of toxins including glyphosate in Roundup found in milk because it was on the grass that cows ate. Tread lightly and treat lawns naturally.