Support fireflies, plus 4 more reasons to get rid of some of your lawn

bee covered in pollen on swamp milkweed
Turning a patch of lawn into a garden, especially if you use native plants, can help pollinators. This pollen-covered bee is feeding on swamp milkweed. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Attract fireflies, support pollinators, save yourself some work and have cleaner air. Those are some of the benefits you can reap when you get rid of some of your lawn.

Support pollinators

Pollinators include butterflies, insects, birds and other animals. To support them, turn a section of your lawn into a garden and include native plants.

Native plants are better than non-natives in providing what native pollinators need: nectar, pollen and seeds, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

If you like butterflies, choose plants that are homes for their babies– caterpillars.

If you like birds, include shrubs and trees to provide habitat for them as well as food. Caterpillars are food for baby birds, and native species of trees support more caterpillars than non-native trees do, according to the National Audubon Society.

See a list of local native plants, including trees, here.

Support fireflies

You don’t have to get rid of grass to get rid of lawn; just stop mowing. Let the grass grow long and have a meadow area.

Although you might not see them, fireflies spend the day resting among the blades of grass, according to the DEC. The more you mow, the less inviting your lawn is for fireflies.

Find out more about fireflies at National Geographic.

Save time

If you turn part of your lawn into a garden or meadow, you will spend less time mowing.

Using native plants will save you time as well. Native plants are adapted to our climate and soil conditions. Once they’re established, you rarely have to water most native plants.

Have cleaner air

Running a gas-powered mower for an hour emits the same amount of pollution as a 20-mile car trip, according to the DEC. If you decrease the area of lawn you have to mow, you will decrease the amount of air pollution emitted.

Bonus tip: Electric mowers are much cleaner.

Be trendy

Grassless front yards are so popular in Western New York that they are referred to as Buffalo-style gardens. If you want to be part of that trend, convert a section of your lawn from grass to garden. You can do it a little at a time.

You can even start now. Set down several layers of newspaper or cardboard on the section of lawn you’d like to convert to garden. The grass should be dead by the time you’re ready to plant. Here’s a way to do it starting in spring.

2 Comments on “Support fireflies, plus 4 more reasons to get rid of some of your lawn

  1. Hi Janet, I shared that list of native plants because it’s fairly new and the most comprehensive list for our area, but if you’re new, that list can be overwhelming! Try this illustrated guide from Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. You can also take some time and browse through our past articles that talk about native plants. There are native plants that attract butterflies, or repel deer, or thrive in shade or like sun. Think about your growing conditions and goals as you get a feel for the plants that are out there. Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses in Williamsville has been working for several years on growing and selling native plants. They always include natives in their 59-cent perennial sale, held usually in April. During the growing season, they also have “Go Gardens,” which is a package of plants with a theme, such as native plants. Some nonprofit organizations also hold sales in spring that include native plants, so watch for those, too. I hope that helps!

  2. Are there particular green houses or garden centers that focus on native plants? Where can a beginning gardener get more guidance? I see a list of plants and am lost.

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