Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lawn Gone?

I hate lawn. There! I've said it and I have no guilt whatsoever. The only fond memory I have of lawn is rolling down a grassy hill in a barrel, over and over again. Oh, and I do love the smell of fresh mowed grass.
That said, I hate everything else about a lawn. The upkeep is agonizing, and they are boring. Every year we dump enough chemicals on them to pickle a nation. And they are not ecologically sound.

The Green at the Oregon Garden is a huge expanse for weddings and other functions. It is a gardener's nightmare to keep it green and weed free.

The Bridal Garden at the Village Green is another lawn that is a major headache to keep looking good.

This is the best this lawn ever looks. It is a small lawn, just big enough for a small wedding, but it's a pain in the tush to keep looking good.

I don't have a problem with grass. You may ask what the differance is, and I'll tell you. Grasses come in all differant sizes and flavors. We have annual grasses and perennials grasses, bluegrass, rye, fescue, etc. There are tall grasses for gardens and invasive grasses for cussing at. I like a little plot of flat vegetation where I can sit comfortably and where the grandkids (if I ever get any) can roll around on.
But I don't want a steroid green lawn of one or two specific grass types with no other "bad" grasses or broadleafed weeds growing in it. The only way to get this kind of lawn is to
a) Be a slave to it.
b) Dump mass quantities of chemicals on it.
No Thank You.
How can I feel good about letting my grandkids play on a toxic wasteland? Do I want to sit in a chemical dump? Do I want the run-off from my over-fertilized lawn to pollute the stream that runs nearby? All so I can have a lush green lawn?
I hearby invite everyone who is reading this to convert their lawn to a miniature meadow. Let the native grasses sow themselves in it, sprinkle seeds of english daisies and violets in the grass, revel in the lush mosses that come in over winter. Mow it if you want to - or not. As we said in the '60's, "Go with the Flow, Baby".
The most delightful lawn I ever saw was at Haceta Head on the Oregon Coast at the Lighthouse Keepers house. It was a beautiful tapestry of tiny potentillas, yarrows, wild strawberries and native grasses. You could roll on it, play on it, run on it and be quite happy. Or you could lay on your belly and marvel at the magical little world beneath you.

We mowed this labyrinth into our field. A fun way to enjoy grass without chemicals.

This "lawn" at Chanticleer has many lovely little wildflowers and crocuses growing in it. They mow some of it short and leave some tall. Very Charming.

Much of my life has been spent ripping out lawns and putting in gardens. I figure I've sent a couple of acres of sod to the compost. Not a bad thing to look back on.


FlowerLady said...

We have done away with most of the lawn we had here when we moved in in 1973. Gardens are so much better for spirit, body, heart and soul.


Suz said...

oh my....I just melted seeing your labyrinth

one such as this changed my life...

for the better..

can't grass be a resting place for the eyes in a garden....not a lot ..but a little

Cindee said...

Hi Suz,
I have no problem with grass in a garden. My problem lies with the belief that the grass has to be a perfect, deep green sward that is won at the expense of the environment (and anyone who walks or plays on it). The two last pictures in this post are chemical-free lawns.

debsgarden said...

The labyrinth is wonderful. We do have a nice lawn, but I don't think we are slaves to it at all. It is a thick zoysia lawn, and all I do is fertilize it twice a year with an all natural fertilizer. Sometimes there are some broadleaf weeds that I pull or else use iron-x on. That's it. My husband mows it, a job he enjoys. We keep it about 3 inches high. The lawn is a nice contrast to the woodland and garden areas. The birds love to hunt for worms in it, and it feels fantastic to my feet. My children had many great times playing on it when they were young. So lawns don't have to be the environmental nightmare you described. Sadly, many are.

leavesnbloom said...

Cindee I am a slave to my front lawn hence the reason its not too big - but I'm not so fussy about the back lawn - I would miss the green if I took the lawn away tho I have been tempted at times. My back garden is really a badminton court during the summer months - I could not bare to have a load of chemicals on it.

Di said...

Hello Cindee, you may not believe this but we have no lawn, just paths and flower beds and vegetable gardens... and we do not miss having to mow on a weekly basis. However, there is much to do in maintaining the rest of it. ;)

Kathleen said...

Hi Cindee!
Coming to the Village Green tonight for R & R & to listen to your musings on Hellebores, etc.
Saw the article in the local paper last week & want to enjoy your garden efforts/beauty there...Hope things go better there, financially, for the VG?
Looking forward to seeing you! It's been too long~
Katie Allgood

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I'm the odd one here which should come as no surprise to anyone. :) I love lawns. I love the green, fresh look and the feeling it gives me and the smell and I just love them. But mostly I love them when they belong to someone else. You're so right about the never ending neurotic upkeep. Fertilize so it will grow, then cut it when it does grow. Makes me dizzy. Thankfully more and more people are using organic fertilizer products that metabolize slow and actually feed the soil. Hopefully this will be the norm in a few years.

I've got a front yard lawn, no wait "grass." It's under three sweet gum trees and looks like crap all the time. In the back I've got two small roundish lawn areas. I call them the north and south lawns but this is way too grandiose. They are a pain in the butt to keep up, granted but I can mow, [push mower] in less than 10 minutes and edge [hand clippers] in a half hour. As designers like to say, a lawn "gives the eye a place to rest." It also gives my hubby and I a place to set our Adirondacks and talk about our day while the cats pretend to sleep just out of reach so I've got to get up in order to pet them.

As far as the eco-lawns go, I might be completely naive for saying this but here goes: I'm sure they look good year round at the beach where it's always humid. Here, where I live, it gets scorching dry in the summer and eco-lawns or even meadows turn to fire hazards not to mention look like crap. Unless of course, gallons of water and fertilizer are administered to keep it alive.

So the debate lives on...