25 votes

Lawns are an ecological disaster

6 comments

  1. [2]
    Amarok
    Link
    I've got about five and a half acres, and I don't mow that every week. There's a bit under one acre around the house that I mow every month. The grass barely makes it above ankle deep in that...

    I've got about five and a half acres, and I don't mow that every week. There's a bit under one acre around the house that I mow every month. The grass barely makes it above ankle deep in that entire time, and I get a lot of wildflowers growing - dandelions, paintbrushes, clover, buttercup, mostly small fast growing flowers. The pollinators love it. All of it is native grass, never needed to plant anything. Hell, I can barely keep the grass out of the stone driveway, it spreads aggressively on its own.

    The other four plus acres I let go until fall after one or two max height trims in spring. That keeps the big stuff at bay early in the year so that I don't end up trying to mow down a forest that's taller than me on my own tractor come fall. Afterwards, those fields get just over knee deep, and it's a pollinator's paradise. Milkweed, thistle, brown eyed susan, tiger lilly, wild tulips, iris, daisies, wild strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc. There's more flower varieties than I even recognize. After they start to bloom they attract (and feed) a galaxy of butterflies, bees, and other insects. It also looks and smells wonderful. I think my neighbors are rather annoyed I let it go like that, they've all succumbed to the grass mat mentality.

    It takes some work getting that back down in the fall once it's thick, but not as much as trimming it every week would. I can get it all mulched in one cold weekend. My mowers can take it. I go through belts and blades a little faster, that's the only tradeoff. Oh, and there's always at least one ground hornet nest to deal with, finding that is always an adventure. Sometimes I crash into a new anthill that's tall enough to stop the tractor, those red/black ants that love to build five foot tall mounds live around here.

    The only places that have been mowed into a grass mat over the years are right next to the house, and some paths/perimeters around the tall stuff so it's still easy to walk around the place. I never water anything other than a few flower beds by the house, and this entire place has never been treated by any chemicals. I've hit the ditches along the driveway with some low grade weed killers every couple of years, that's it.

    You'd think we'd have a lot of mosquitoes and other night insects, especially with a frog pond on the property and several other ponds nearby (all my neighbors have them). There's a healthy bat population around here that keeps the insects in check. I was wondering if I could build them some habitats to encourage them to roost. What do bats like to live in, anyway, other than my attic sometimes?

    I compare that with when I was living in the city. Nothing but boring green grass and the smell of those damn chemical treatments. It seems rather anemic by comparison. I'll take the wildflowers.

    13 votes
    1. stephen
      Link Parent
      Thank you for doing this!!! Grasslands in addition to being gorgeous and great habitats sequester massive amounts of carbon and rebuild top soil.

      I get a lot of wildflowers growing - dandelions, paintbrushes, clover, buttercup, mostly small fast growing flowers. The pollinators love it. All of it is native grass

      Thank you for doing this!!! Grasslands in addition to being gorgeous and great habitats sequester massive amounts of carbon and rebuild top soil.

      3 votes
  2. [2]
    Flashynuff
    Link
    lawns are awful. use native plants!!

    Influential native gardening writer Sara Stein perhaps best summed up the absurdity best: “Continual amputation is a critical part of lawn care. Cutting grass regularly—preventing it from reaching up and flowering — forces it to sprout still more blades, more rhizomes, more roots, to become an ever more impenetrable mat until it is what its owner has worked so hard or paid so much to have: the perfect lawn, the perfect sealant through which nothing else can grow—and the perfect antithesis of an ecological system.”

    lawns are awful. use native plants!!

    9 votes
    1. emdash
      Link Parent
      Hell, you don't even have to use native plants—if some people find that too much effort. Just let it grow into a meadow. Push it in the right direction by seeding it casually with the sorts of...

      Hell, you don't even have to use native plants—if some people find that too much effort. Just let it grow into a meadow. Push it in the right direction by seeding it casually with the sorts of grasses and flowers you want to see, and it'll work itself out in the majority of cases. So much better in terms of water & soil retention.

      2 votes
  3. JohnLeFou
    Link
    Toss a bag of clover seed on your urban lawn. Half the reason clover is considered a weed is because herbicidal companies couldn’t figure out a formula that doesn’t kill it and get other broad...

    Toss a bag of clover seed on your urban lawn. Half the reason clover is considered a weed is because herbicidal companies couldn’t figure out a formula that doesn’t kill it and get other broad leaf weeds. So, it got advertised as a cancer on your lawn when it is actually nitrogen fixing, drought tolerant, immune to pet urine staining, feels great on your feet and is pollinator friendly. It’s also like 4$ to do your whole lawn.

    5 votes
  4. patience_limited
    Link
    So we're in the final stages of closing on the home that we've spent the past 5 months searching for. One of the most difficult hurdles to overcome was finding a place that didn't sit on a flat...

    So we're in the final stages of closing on the home that we've spent the past 5 months searching for. One of the most difficult hurdles to overcome was finding a place that didn't sit on a flat green postage stamp of monoculture lawn.

    We gave up on new construction pretty quickly because everything affordable was located on former agricultural land - no trees in sight, hydroseed insta-lawns that were certain to require every chemical possible.

    We ultimately found a 1970's ranch on over an acre in the city, bordered by county-owned forest preserve.
    The entire property has been permaculture-gardened for decades - there are raspberry and strawberry groundcovers, wildflower patches, fruit trees, and shade/water/sun garden areas that we're still mapping. [Former owners kept chickens, but I'm aiming for beehives.]

    The only lawn is a tiny patch of maintenance-free shade-grown fescue under a century maple tree.

    4 votes