Rethinking grass.


Grass is inordinately important to our neighbour. I have never met anyone who cared as tenderly for it or spent as much time coddling it as he. He mows it weekly, waters it constantly, fertilises, limes, weeds, sprays and does everything except stroke it (and he may do that at night – I haven't checked). Dandelions are his mortal enemy, he knows the weed and pest sprayers by first name and thinks of clover as a noxious weed.
dandelion 2
I only bring this up because the night before last, he knocked on our door to let us know that he was having his lawn sprayed for pests. Apparently the neighbour on the other side of him has "grubs" (unspecific grubs without nomenclature) and was told by the "Lawn Doctor" that he needed to eradicate them or he'd have nothing but yellow grass. Neighbour two tells neighbour one who decides to jump on the bandwagon and neighbour one tells me. I asked what they were spraying. No one knew. I asked exactly what they were spraying for. They looked at me with "duh" expressions and said, "grubs." So yesterday they sprayed Sevin everywhere. Luckily it wasn't windy and we have a driveway separating us from them, but it'll still take ten days to dissipate. Hopefully the birds and other wild critters will have the sense to stay away.

Since buying this property, which is a mass of hills, slopes and rocks, I've given some serious though to ground cover. More serious than might seem sane.

I've more or less decided that if we have half an acre, I'm not mowing all of it every week. It just ain't happening. My uncle mows half an acre weekly and it takes him a couple of hours. What fun. Besides, we own a powerless push-mower, you know, the kind with the reel and a strong back to cut grass….

I also know myself well enough to know that I won't ritualistically fertilise and weed and trim edges. We've decided that what we want is functional turf to walk and play on that looks primarily green and requires little maintenance, so we've been planting clover and encouraging dandelions.

Being to custodian of a lawn, I've come to appreciate that you can either fight the good fight or form an alliance. I'm siding with the weeds. We live in the country, surrounded by fields and woods. There is no way that I can stop weeds, so I may as well just keep them out of the flower beds. The grass is fair game.

Needless to say, my neighbours are perplexed. When they get a yellow patch on the lawn, they dump chemicals. When we get one, I take it as a sign that there should have been a flower bed or clover patch there. Ultimately, I hope not to have a front lawn, just paths through flower beds. 

One of these days I'll take a panorama of the houses along our stretch of street. We're the only ones who have planted any trees…..

Why would you move to the weedy country to have a suburban golf course lawn??!? 


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Maureen says:

    I’m on your side………all the way!
    Our house block is about one tenth of our 10 acres;we’re in drought and our water supply is from rain water tanks…..NO way am I wasting that tank water on green lawn/grass.
    We dont spray for lawn grubs or fruit fly…….we leave their eradication to all our fesathered free loaders who give us such great joy………….go trawl through my
    to see WHY we stay as au naturel as possible……….we are SPOILT with visiting bird life and no way will we contribute to poisoning them for a patch of green grass.

  2. Dale Anne says:

    We are trying to be chemical free…its hard when the neighbours all around use them.
    Our solution for dandelions:
    1 litre of vinegar
    1/4 cup of salt
    2 teaspoons dish soap
    Put in spray bottle, mix thoroughly, and spray on dandelions in the morning sun.
    So, much easier to breathe vinegar than chemicals!!!

  3. jon hayes says:

    long live the dandelions!
    And they make such wonderful photographs. You should get the naighbours on the “flickr” and perhaps their tune will change when they discover the macro setting!
    Funny you mention the golf-course lawn. In the suburbs where I grew up there was a neighbour who used to be a golf-course maintenance guy. So when he retired he kept his entire front lawn the length of a putting green (maybe 1/2 cm). The funny thing is, you’d think he’d have fun with it and maybe use it to make a mini-putt for the kids. But no, he just wanted it to look REALLY nice.
    When visitors came, we’d invariably take them to show the neighbour with the golf-course lawn.
    The suburbs to strange things to people.

  4. Teri says:

    It’s a good thing I live on a farm. I love dandelions! And Queen Ann’s Lace. And Chickory. The only thing I really DON’T love it the garlic mustard which is taking over my wooded spots. It spreads faster than I can pick it. I would be very unpopular in the ‘burbs.

    As for the clover….years ago I had a guy from ChemLawn/TruGreen (sorry, I DO NOT want a chemical lawn) stop when I was out mowing one day. He proceeded to tell me how he could *fix* my yard. He would start by killing all the weeds…..”especially this noxious clover.” Then he would treat with nitrogen and other fertilizers. Of course, neither my family nor my pets could go in the yard for however long after. Well, I’m here to tell ya….it’s really hard to convince the deer, and rabbits and barn cats, etc, etc, etc to stay out of the yard. And where the heck is my dog supposed to go? And WHY would I want to kill the clover, which is a nitrogen fixer (adds nitrogen to the soil) and then add artificial stuff to replace what the clover was already replacing?? I told the guy this and ended with *thanks….but I think I will let Mother Nature handle this…..”


  5. Gemma Grace says:

    “He mows it weekly, waters it constantly, fertilises, limes, weeds, sprays and does everything except stroke it (and he may do that at night – I haven’t checked).” LOL

  6. SkylarKD says:

    We moved to the suburbs last year, an people here are ALL about their lawns. You feel guilty if you don’t mow once a week. It really is kind of cult-ish, lol. Thankfully, our neighbors on both sides only use organic lawn treatments. Not sure about the people in back though. :/

  7. mary Lou Breiman says:

    I live in Berkeley, Ca. The Capeweed on my sloping lawn has been great until this wet year, when the fescue we sowed on our denuded slope 20 years ago, when we built, came up! I’ve had it removed by hand but but the result is a mostly bare lawn with millions of grasseeds laying on it.

    I’m thinking of vacuuming the lawn (a very dry, cracked clay at this time) with my wet/dry vac but I will certainly need to eradicate the remaining seeds.

    The Capeweed is a survivor in dry times, but can be crowed out in the wet times by fescue, sourgrass, something that has little white flowers and smells like onion, and wandering jew if the winter is wet.

    I love my little yellow Cape Weed flowers, and could do without all the rest, especially the grass!

    Any advice? I don’t want to use chemicals that are harmful to me, the birds, my cats, or bees.

    Mary Louise

    Any advice?

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