|The best incentive for Natural Lawn Care|
It used to be that kids played on the lawn. When I was little, we had kickball games that spanned over several houses in the neighborhood. It was our gymnastics practice fields, or a place to hang out with our friends. If there is even a glimmer of hope that your lawn can be used for kids – then please - keep it for them. In which case, there are several new hybrid grasses which need much less mowing. They have more of a ‘tufty’ look to them, but I can’t see how that would be a problem for a kid.
There is another reason to keep a vast expanse of green – and that is for the neighborhood cohesiveness. For example, my street is a bit of a classic early century urban scene, with smallish sized cottages with set-backs from the street. We all have somewhat postage stamp sized front lawns, with ribbons of concrete leading to the garage in the backyards. The connecting greenery of our lawns provides a visual flow from one house to the other. We can see other houses and their front porches. We talk, we wave, we know our neighbors. One of the neighbors pulled out the lawn and built in an elaborate landscape with curving walls, tall bushes and trees. We can’t see her – and we don’t know her. It also divides the block. We say : below Mrs. X, or this side of Mrs. X.
|The Great American Delawning|
So the elegant solution to big, flat greenspace with no mowing is areas of creeping thyme, or sedum. Once they are established, they seem to be easy to take care of. Beyond the basics, there are all sorts of groundcovers, creeping evergreens, and other low-lying bushes.
I won’t even venture to offer an opinion on landscape design, as that is an art form which I have not mastered, but there are several excellent sources of information. The Lawn Reform Coalition reminds us that lawncare as we know it is not a sustainable practice, in any sense of the word. Their website offers great advice for all different climates, and ‘lawn’ needs. Other websites are www.safelawn.org, the Great American Delawning at www.sustainable-gardening.com.
The trick with any of these landscapes is the installation. Do it right the first time. Our neighborhood has far too many ‘xeriscaped’ yards which look like a wild weed patch. The difference seems to be in removing enough of the old thatch to accommodate a good 3 -4 inches of mulch, laying down a landscape fabric (or lots of newspaper) to prevent recurring weed growth (like morning glory), and a drip irrigation so that vagrant weed seeds just dry out.
My all time favorite is goats. Yes, goats
– the environmentally friendly weed eaters on hooves. San Francisco International has hired goats to
trim the grass. They seem to have a
knack for picking out the noxious weeds.
They actually prefer poison ivy, blackberries.
They are grazers who will eat selectively, starting with the weeds. This is probably not a do-it-yourself
project, since goats can also overgraze
an area. And goats are animals which
need food, shelter – and goats begat goats… So unless you are interested in
starting a small farm, you can hire your own goats (Eco-Goats, California
|The ultimate 'lawnmower'|