Good Gardening: To Lawn Or Not To Lawn

Jun 4, 2018

It's the time of year where you have to decide who will tell you what your lawn should look like. First a little history.   Lawns- front and back started as a safety system during medieval times.


  By having a good view out the castle windows, you could see the invaders coming in time to get to safety.  The average peasant did not have a front lawn.

But the lawn of the nobleman always had what some people call weeds, and was often kept mowed by livestock.

  The invention of the lawnmower got rid of the cows, but clover was encouraged in the grass for its ability to turn nitrogen in the air into fertilizer for your turf.   Dandelions- which might be coveted if they were hard to grow, bring nutrients to the surface with their long tap root, and stay green most of the summer.

 Chemical fertilizers hit the market, and started infiltrating groundwater in the 50's, but an all grass lawn was a lot of work until herbicides made killing non grass plants easy starting in the late 1970's.  And the industry that makes weed killers has done a good job defining the new perfect lawn- grass period.  Boring.

 Herbicide residues and over application of fertilizer are bigger contributors to water pollution than agricultural runoff in many parts of the country, and in virtually all cities.  Try a single application of non chemical fertilizer about now if you are going to water- or skip it if you are going to let your grass go dormant for the summer, and save the 60 -plus percentage of local water that is used for to keep grass green.

   My lawn this spring is a beautiful mix of lush green grass, English daisies, clover, yarrow, and a few patches of dandelions.  My leige would be proud.