The Rear End

THE REAR END: No More No Mow May for Now

a tangled web woven right outside the door

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Eva Paulus |

I hadn’t ventured into the lawn for days. The grass was just too long. The rabbits too numerous. The dangers too great. I couldn’t tell what might be hiding out there, beneath that green, seedy canopy. Sharp sticks? Angry squirrels? Random gopher holes? Carnivorous tarantulas with a taste for human foot meat?

Yes, of course. All of the above.

This year, like many of you, I let the grass grow long for the pollinators. The bees need our pollen-packed yard vegetation, and we need the bees, so I answered the call. If forcing myself to not mow the lawn for a whole month was all it took to save Mother Nature, well, it was the (very, very) least I could do.

It had nothing to do with being lazy. But it maybe had a little to do with finally having an excuse to be lazy. I’ve actually been practicing “No Mow May” for decades. I just never felt good about it until this year.

But who cares? We all won.*

In a few places, our grass grew so tall I could lay down in it and hide from my family. I mean, I didn’t actually do that, but I totally could have.


Unfortunately, all great victories come with a price. My yard got pretty ugly there for a while.

I know TV and magazines set impossible beauty standards for the average American lawn, but you need to believe me – our lawn was a total uggo. It was so long in some places you could see the wind making intricate, mysterious patterns as it swirled through the stalks. But a few places were super short, filled with tufts of stubby little grass blades. Dandelions grew tall, peeking at me o’er the grasstops. Ferns escaped the borders of their flower beds. It was pandemonium.

In a few places, our grass grew so tall I could lay down in it and hide from my family. I mean, I didn’t actually do that, but I totally could have. I could have disappeared in there for days before anyone would find me, fashioning blankets and pillows from the abundant overgrowth. I could have woven myself a hat, some sandals, and a complete set of pajamas. I could have foraged for edible roots and mushrooms and, like, acorns and whatnot. I could have befriended the local rabbit tribe and learned their secrets.

The grass was long, is what I’m saying.

But I must confess. A few days before the end of May, I broke down. I dug out the mower from the back of the garage, and, to my surprise, it fired up on the second pull. I then began the arduous chore of cutting the grass, hacking it down to the ground. It was a day both bitter and sweet.

Oh, it wasn’t easy. The grass did not go quietly. My lawnmower and I had to fight for every inch of that yard, churning through masses of green stems. It was slow work, and I even got slightly sweaty. Which was frustrating, because I adhere to a religion that doesn’t believe in sweating before mid-June.

So for us, as my wife says, it was “Mostly No Mow May.” Like many of our neighbors, mowing just became a necessity – if the grass grew any thicker it would have choked our cutting machines to death. Left with no other choice, we would have abandoned them in the middle of the yard to be slowly overtaken by the grass. Leafy tendrils would wrap over our silent lawnmowers, gradually pulling them down into the earth to rust and rot alongside the worms.

So, the lawn looks way better now, and I can just stroll out onto it with nary a worry. The chances of a sneak attack by ravenous, furry critters are practically (but never exactly) zero. And life can return to normal.

*I mean, I’m pretty sure we all won. We saved Mother Nature, right?