Beauty is in the Eye of the Bee-Holder Pt.3

Purple flowers in a prairie meadow

This is Leah and Dan Cunningham’s landscaping story about bringing their yard back to nature. We’re sharing it with you in seven chapters, within seven blog posts.

Chapter 3: A Bee Lawn Transition

In the backyard, Dan and Leah wanted to keep some lawn for chairs and a portable fire ring to entertain friends and family. They did not however want to use any more fertilizers or pesticides on their lawn and they wanted to avoid mowing as much as possible. The bee lawn seed blend was chosen to provide a low-maintenance lawn that never needs watering or fertilizers. While they could also forego mowing, Dan found that a little mowing was still helpful to keep the height he was aiming for.

Dan: The first year we had the bee lawn, it came in and we couldn’t touch it because it was

freshly seeded. It grew in really thick and tall, and it laid over a bit. The second year it grew really fast in the spring and then it got hot and dry, and it all laid over on its side. The flowers went brown, and it looked like lots of stems laying on their side. When we got a little more rain, I started mowing a little bit and got it back to almost what it looks like now. Then this year in the spring, I thought, rather than let that happen I went out and started mowing it as soon as it was above 4.5 inches I started mowing once or twice per week, I think I only mowed it 4 times. By cutting off the top canopy it promotes the growth of the bottom canopy to come up for a little bit. But I also didn’t want to do that for very long because I know that the self-heal wouldn’t bloom if I kept mowing it and the clover wouldn’t really get a chance to blossom as much. Plus, there are bees in there and I don’t wanna mow the bees. I got it to grow nice and short and it’s been incredibly resilient in the hot weather.

Leah: He waited ‘cause I didn’t want bees to get hurt. You’ve got to wait till there are at least

50-degree temps overnight. At the edges, thyme and fescue and self-heal have taken off while in the middle it’s mostly clover. The clover dominates in the sunnier spots. If you look up under the spruce tree it’s all thyme and fescue there so it’s really interesting to see how it grows depending on light availability. We love the clover as a living mulch in the gardens too. Honestly, if I were a little kid, I’d love a yard like this.

Leah and Dan were aiming for a landscape that would provide a space to connect with nature, and they met this goal with wild success.

Dan: I feel like when we go out there on a good day, like today, even with the bee balm getting past its prime, I feel like there’s thousands of bees. We see lots of butterflies. We’ve had monarchs all summer. Fritillaries, painted ladies, admirals, swallow tails. More than one hummingbird moth coming through. We’ve seen hundreds of insect species already

As the education and advocacy branch, we work with community partners to create safe places for our pollinators, one garden, yard, business, school, church, conversation at a time. We know that together, we can build the buzz! Learn More
As the construction branch of Minnehaha Falls Landscaping, we build outdoor decks, steps, railings, pergolas, fences, and planters. When it gets colder, we step inside to remodel living spaces with creativity and craftsmanship, including cabinetry. Learn More
As the gardening branch, we work within your landscape to grow plants, flowers, shrubs and woodland gardens that are beautiful, restorative, and safe for birds, people, pets, and pollinators. We also install bee-friendly lawns and do spring and fall clean-up. Learn More

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