Seeing that meme of the deep roots of prairie plants? Chances are you're also hearing someone say something like "this is why you don't have to water native plants" or "native plants are drought tolerant."
Just. No. It's always about right plant, right place. You could place a deeply rooted blue grama grass in a moist site and it will die. And native plants aren't automatically drought tolerant -- they aren't full of magic juice. Right plant, right place. Also, it's very helpful to water native plants during the establishment period -- and if your soil is sandy, it's critical to do so for months.
There are plenty of exotics plants that also have deep roots or are very hardy or drought tolerant.
And about those deep roots and supposed drought tolerance....
No mow May continues to frustrate the heck out of me. Just letting your lawn go will not result in a lovely meadow that neighbors or wildlife will admire. If you're on an urban lot, chances are you won't be getting aster and indigo and prairie clover and coneflowers -- they aren't in the seed bank because your house was not recently built on top of a remnant prairie.
What you WILL get are a host of plants with marginal to little benefit to wildlife, and several that will be terribly aggressive: crabgrass, creeping charlie, barnyard grass. And of course invasive species placed on most city's noxious weed list, like musk thistle or garlic mustard.
There's little chance a neighbor will look at your "let go" lawn and think wow, that's cool, I want that, I understand it. There's every chance they will rightfully report you to weed control -- especially if you're not actively managing the space or designing it in some way, particularly with cues to care or making some sort of significant plant additions. It's better to design the space, to choose the plant communities that will work together AND support wildlife. Well, read some perspectives by pollinator specialists.
Now, I'm all for reducing mowing. And certainly for doing so in larger expanses, like business parks and city parks and golf course edges. Also -- kill you lawn.
I know I'm going to get a lot of flak for this post, but there is a lot of nuance to the above topics and reducing them to cute little memes will, I fear, set folks up for more failure than success. Topics similar to these are what I tackle in my next book, busting some myths and exploring the important nuances so we all have more success and appeal to both neighbors and wildlife.
As for anyone who argues "baby steps," well adults should be taking adult steps -- similarly full of big dreams, big hopes, big risks, and big faith.
Our climate and ecological crisis needs adult steps asap.
Keep on rethinking pretty. And prairie up!