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MN lawmakers buzzing about $$ incentives for 'Bee-Friendly' Lawns

Are you thinking of turning your lawn into a "bee lawn" this year? Some Minnesota lawmakers want to encourage residents and business owners to do this--in fact, 14 legislators have signed on as authors!

The legislation is called the "Lawns to Legumes bill. The proposal would provide three years of funding for sharing of up to 75 percent of the costs to convert lawns to pollinator friendly or bee lawns.

Bee lawn benefits

You might be reluctant to change what your lawn looks like, but there are in fact, many benefits:
  • Your lawn will be more resilient to environmental pressures such as extreme seasonal temperatures and drought. White clover and fine fescue grasses are quite drought tolerant and low maintenance.
  • Flowering lawns provide a natural diversity that benefits bees and other pollinators and insects.
  • The beauty of the flowers themselves.

Can bee lawns work everywhere?

Can this work in urban and suburban areas?  Yes, according to James Wolfin graduate student at the U, who has just completed new research on bee counts on flower-enhanced lawns in the Minneapolis Parks system. 

What lawn flowers attract bees?

White clover, a legume, is fairly easy to overseed and establish in a lawn. Many garden centers sell the seed. Clover plants are low growing and can flower when lawns are maintained at 3 ½ or 4 inches.  

Wolfin’s research shows that adding creeping thyme and selfheal can increase the number and kind of bees your lawn can attract.  Best results happen when the seed comes in contact with soil, so aeration (removing soil cores with a machine) or scalping (very low cutting of the grass) help to get the flower seed into the soil.  

What does a bee lawn look like?

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum planted bee lawn demonstration areas that you can visit any time the Arboretum is open. The area is easy to access on Three Mile Drive near the Hydrangea Collection.  Learn about these demonstration areas here. 

More resources

Read more about bee lawns at the UMN Bee Lab's web page.  You can also download this UMN Extension pamphlet that describes bee lawns in detail.

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