The Lunacy of the American Lawn

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist June 30, 2011

Perfection Can Be Ugly

I hate lawns.

No offense to any of you self described lawn freaks out there, but the fact is that the more perfect and unblemished a lawn is, the more I hate it.

Perhaps my extreme distaste for perfect lawns comes from my own Mother’s obsession with lawns while I was growing up.  Even today, she waters, sprays, weed eats, fertilizes and chemicalizes the living daylights out of her lawn season after season and then laments how my yard looks better than hers.

What do I do to achieve superior lawn status? Absolutely nothing.   Please don’t call it a lawn, though.  The word lawn to me means that you actually work on it and spray things on it.  I don’t work on mine at all; therefore, it is a yard.  It’s amazing how nice – not perfect – things can look when you leave nature alone and don’t disrupt the soil balance with chemicals.

Golf Courses Are Just Too Perfect

As much as I love to play golf (and I played a lot growing up – basically every day), I would never live on a golf course because I hate how perfect they look all the time.  I much prefer the links style courses of Australia and Europe where frequently nothing is sprayed and yet the grass is beautiful anyway with mottled patches of brown and various shades of green grass snaking up and down each fairway.   The “greens” may or may not be green .. but the grass is smooth and slick anyway providing a perfect putting surface just the same as the overchemicalized American versions.

I once was told that each golf course green in America requires about $10,000 in chemicals to maintain it each year. I have no idea if this is true or not, but even if it’s remotely close speaks volumes to the amount of poison that is dumped in our environment year after year simply to maintain small patches of green putting surface.

Insane.

Avoiding a lawn was a primary reason my husband and I moved to a rural neighborhood.   The thought of having a Homeowner Association send me a nasty letter because I had a brown spot or two on my lawn made no sense to me and knowing myself well, I realized I would never be moved to comply with them.

Such a letter would mean that I would have to spray chemical fertilizers and pesticides on said brown spots which my children would track into the house.  Pesticides in a home take a verrry loooong time to break down.  Kind of like a house guest you can’t seem to get rid of.

Pesticides on my lawn would also mean hormone disrupting, cancer causing fumes mixing with the air we breathed inside.  Not to mention that pesticides have been linked with ADHD in children.  Though I didn’t know this at the time we bought our house, it seemed common sense to me to avoid them.  I don’t need a scientific study to tell me that chemicals and children shouldn’t mix.

Weeds Can Be Beautiful

I love the mixture of weeds and grass that makes up my front yard.  I even love the sandspurs. They have a place in my yard and my kids know to wear shoes in that area.   Big deal.  Do I try to get rid of them?  Not a chance.

My front yard is predominantly one type of grass and my back yard is another type. Yeah and they look very different. Do I feel compelled to make everything uniform?   Not in the slightest.   If it’s green and it grows, I’m good with it.

I have never put down any pesticides or chemicals of any kind on my yard in the almost 20 years we’ve lived here.   I love that my children can run barefoot on it and that when they were toddlers, they could eat the dirt, leaves and grass without danger (toddlers eat dirt for a reason, by the way.  It primes their immune system and leaves them healthier as adults).

Not only haven’t I ever sprayed my yard, I’ve never watered it either.  Why?  If there is no rain, a yard should die and turn brown. I consider this a welcome relief from mowing and other yard duties.  I hate thirsty lawns that suck up water by the hundreds of gallons.  It is such a waste to me and a clear testament to the unsustainable living mentality of Americans in general.

A green lawn during the dry season is weird.  It’s not only not natural, it’s downright distasteful.   My brown yard comes back beautiful and green when the rains return.  Do I need to “resod” or “reseed”?  Of course not.  Nature knows what to do.  It’s only chemicalized perfect lawns that have trouble during and after droughts.

I’m thinking about lawns right now because my Mom is preparing to completely resod her entire (and very large) yard at the moment.   The dirt had finally had enough abuse over the years and even the extreme treatments of lawn maintenance companies could not bring it back.

The soil was basically so dead nothing would grow in it anymore.

So, thousands of dollars are now required to completely resod the whole thing!

I am very happy to report that my Mom is open to using one of the new organic lawn services that have become more widespread in my community in recent years once her new lawn is laid.  You go Mom!

One step at a time, though.  Maybe someday I can convince her to turn off those sprinklers and love the weeds as much as the grass!

Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist.com

Picture Credit

 

Comments (80)

  1. I own Scottish Terriers and they are prone to a specific kind of cancer. Purdue University Veterinarian School put out a top 10 list of things to avoid to prevent this cancer in Scotties and the #1 item is never to allow them on treated grass/lawns. Not even once in a while on a walk or in a dog park that might be treat – but NEVER! After losing my beloved MacDuff to this cancer (I lived in an apartment complex that always treated the lawn with nasty chemicals and unfortunately found this info out too late) I now own my home and never treat my grass not even with so-called natural products. 2 Scotties later (MacKenzie and Angus) and I am happy as a clam with a far from perfect “lawn.” When I get weeds out back taller than myself I Google “organic weed killer” and they have fabulous recipes using boiling water, vinegar and salt. For large areas of weeds just put a tarp over the area and weigh it down with a few rocks and voila-dead weeds due to lack of sunshine and rain. Of course my dogs like to poop on the tarp but there you have it.

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  2. i have green frond and back yard but mostly creapy charlie,…it has a good root system and some time i use to sit and pull it out like a sweather yarn to get rid of it b/c of the next door people….pear pressure…i wanted to look like i put hard work into my “lawn”….both neighboors spray with chemical crap…i feel that my rights are voilated b/c they spray it with no warrning!!!
    Thank you Sarah for your article i will love my yard and enjoy to walk bear foot in it…( i will feel no shame anymore)….btw i would never use chemicals and no monsanto toxic stuff for sure.
    Thank you i needed to read this article so much!!!

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  3. Lead paint is illegal. Asbestos is illegal. Exactly why are toxic lawn care chemicals legal? Many of the chemicals in lawn sprays are known carcinogens.

    If someone wants to be a lawn freak and dedicate their lives to their lawns, that is fine by me. Live and let live, you know. (You want to spend your life fretting over every little dandelion and patch of clover? Go for it, mate. Knock yourself outl)

    However, when they start spraying toxic chemicals, that’s an entirely different matter. That should be a crime. God only knows how many people have cancer, asthma and other ailments from toxic lawn chemicals. Seirously, why are these products legal?

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  4. I remember a new lawn being laid where I used to live when there was a heatwave. It turned brown and I was convinced the grass was dead. I was proved wrong once it started to rain again!
    April\’s last post: Mixed Results

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  5. Southwest Escapee October 26, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    When I first moved to Arizona almost three years ago, I remember taking my first walk around a neighborhood near my apartment and being horrified upon seeing a homeowner’s yard flooded with water. What could have happened?! Why is no one doing anything about this tragedy before the water seeps into the house’s foundation? As I continued, I saw one or two other flooded yards. After speaking to a local home-owning friend, I learned that residents in downtown Phoenix regularly FLOOD IRRIGATE their yards. The complete absurdity of this practice, in the middle of a desert absolute shocks and disturbs me. I agree that if it’s green and it’s on the ground in front of your house, you have succeeded with your lawn. What could possibly be the benefit of fighting nature in such a harsh ecosystem just to have grass covering sand?

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  6. For those who want a non-toxic lawn fertilizer/weed control, I recommend the products by Gardens Alive. They have corn-based “WOW – without weeds” that blocks weed seed germination, and an iron product for eliminating weeds. Their other products are great, too. Try their natural tomato fertilizer. Our tomatoes are ginormous!
    http://www.gardensalive.com/

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  7. We used corn gluten for three years in a row, but then we ran out (it had been purchased from a local grain mill and was in huge bags) and we probably won’t use it again. It worked — but it stinks! Pheww!

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  8. Love your website! : )

    Oooo! I also love beautiful yards. But I never understand people who pour copious amounts of pesticides and inorganic fertilizer on their grass, let their dogs and cats run around on them and lick their feet and fur, and then wonder why their animals have cancer or some other disease. (Not to mention how it damages every other living thing!)

    I’m an organic gardener and certified Lawn Maniac. My dogs can stick their heads into my bag of fertilizer (has dry molasses in it) and get a lick and I don’t have to worry about them being poisoned. I also use corn gluten meal in Feb as a pre-emergent. It not only stops weed seeds from germinating, but it is a good fertilizer too. (Also edible if my pups choose to sample it.) For the weeds that still appear one can mow twice a week (great exercise) and they will eventually go away. But a nice spring dandelion salad is quite yummy!

    I also plant clover in the back yard because it’s so beautiful, durable and nourishing for the health of the yard. Here in Texas we have a wild plant called horseherb that is low growing with tiny yellow flowers on it. It’s drought tolerant, makes a beautiful lawn and if you could ever get enough of it going you would never have to mow! My pups look so beautiful snoozing in the clover and horseherb!

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  9. I am loving this website! Thank you for speaking out against the American obsession – the manicured lawn. I have a lawn that is a mixture of short grasses, clover, birdsfoot trefoil and a host of other pretty, flowing, lovely grasses and ground covers. I mow as infrequently as humanly possible, and let wild things grow where I can. When I get a letter from the City telling me I have to mow I crank the wheels up to about 4″ and whiz over it like a one-woman hurricane, whacking off the tippy-top and little else. My “grass” harbors critters like baby bunnies, is cushiony soft under my feet when I walk on it barefoot, and is wonderfully attractive. Thank you for your great site.

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  10. ha… As a kid, my dad and step mom didn’t take care of their lawn except to cut it occasionally. I think their reasoning for not doing much was entirely different (they didn’t care). Sometimes, the lawn embarrassed me, though, because of the type of “weeds” that would grow and take over; they were a bit unsightly. But I sometimes I did really appreciate the beauty of variety, especially in the springtime.

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  11. If you do a search on the history of lawns you will find that it started in Europe with wealthy land owners. Of course no sensible farmer would put in a lawn! With the advent of industrializtion came parks and the lawn as we know it. It is kind of a status symbol to have a perfect lawn. Isn’t that why the HOAs want them perfect, it supports property values! We have two acres which I am sure was seeded at one time. But the proper grass for the area was seeded, which does not require watering. I am grateful for all the grass even if it is filled with weeds and such. 2 acres of dirt would not be pleasant to live it! Especially on a windy dry day! Since we moved in 9 years ago, we have put in a very large garden, 2 dozen laying hens and raise our own broiler chicks on our property. It just seems to make sense to me to use it to produce something instead of looking like a park! And I can tell you, 50 broilers pooping on your grass in a movable pen is the most natural way to get gorgeous green lush grass! :)

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  12. Sarah, you’re a girl after my own heart! In my previous house about 5 years ago (before I moved to a farm), I sheet-mulched with layers of newspaper and cardboard over both front and backyard lawns and covered that with wood chips (free from a local tree service) and leaf mulch, and added more raised beds. I miss that yard! I grew the best tomatoes I ever tasted in that backyard, and the front was maintenance free, as the addition of more leaves just meant more mulch! Have you read the wonderful book “Food Not Lawns”? That inspired me a few years ago.

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  13. Great post! I hate lawns too. Especially those large, expansive ones. I always say to my husband what a waste of good vegetable garden space!!! I’d have the hugest garden if I had a large yard, – mine is tiny (our entire property is 30×100 feet!) My husband built me a raised garden bed and I have my pole beans along one fence. I cram as much as I can get away with in the yard, while still leaving room for the kids to run wild :) My kids worked a long, wide compacted dirt path into the yard that I’m sure horrifies some people – lol

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  14. I’m so with you! Weeds can be very beautiful.
    My parents never watered the lawn at our house (mostly because it was 5 acres of an old bean field), but so many of my parent’s friends who lived in nice neighborhoods with beautiful green lawns had dogs that died from cancer. Coincidence? I think not.

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  15. I once asked my mom, “How do you tell the weeds from the flowers?” and she told me, “If it’s pretty to you, it’s a flower. It doesn’t matter if it’s a weed to everyone else!”

    My mom always grew things naturally, without any chemicals, and she always had a wonderful garden and yard. I remember picking clover and making “crowns” out of it as a kid! To me, that clover was beautiful flower, not a weed! You can have the chemically treated lawn- give me a natural yard that works with the environment and produces all the wonderful “flowers” that nature intended :)

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  16. Thank you for this. My husband and I are sort of battling about this right now. I let the chicory grow, he pulls it up!

    But the natural weeds that grow in a natural lawn all have purposes:
    clover — fixes nitrogen, doesn’t go brown in the hottest summer, very soft on feet (our yard is mostly clover!)
    moss — makes the ground springy
    dandelion — deep roots bring up nutrients to the surface from far below; plus, if you mow them frequently they learn to grow close to the ground
    buttercup — pretty!
    chicory, dandelion, plantain, purslane, onion grass, and wild mustard — tasty!

    The way we usually grow lawns is like a perfect recipe for exhausted soil. We grow crop after crop of grass, harvest weekly, take the clippings away and NEVER replace the organic matter. Instead, we should mix in legumes (clover and alfalfa), let grass grow a little longer to develop good roots, and either leave the clippings or replace them with compost.

    I never water my lawn, and it hasn’t gone dormant yet! It may eventually, but as long as it’s still green, I know my veggies don’t need much water either. I let them all grow deep roots so they will be able to find water in the hottest weather.

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  17. Jake from Boulder July 1, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Thanks for bringing attention to the subject of LAWNS, Sarah! I loved my back yard as a kid which was mostly woods – and a swingset! Now that I live in beautiful Boulder, Colorado I cringe whenever I see a big green lawn because they ain’t natural here! Not even close. The sun and the heat at this altitude make keeping a green lawn a full time job. I didn’t read through all the comments, but this is true of a big portion of the country, especially the southwest. I know golf is very popular in Utah. Utah! And most of the west has been in a 10+ year drought. I see it as a water use issue out here. One day we will wake up smell the astroturf.

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    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Thanks for chiming in Jake. A green lawn on Boulder, Colorado? Makes no sense!

      I cringe when I see pictures of these beautiful, perfect green golf courses in the middle of Nevada – a golf course in the desert? How clueless are these people. What kind of water resources are being wasted for just a few rich people to play golf there? Shameful and downright disrespectful to the entire human race.

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  18. Grass that has been allowed to die back in the heat of season will definately come back in the cool of fall and spring. Our grass is a cool season grass and it’s natural for it to stop in the heat and drought. If allowed to do so, it will grow a better root system and be able to find that moisture in the ground. Grass/plants that are watered constantly, have shallow root systems since it doesn’t have to search for moisture and will therefor not do well if not babied. Also, grass/plants that are fertilized regularly become addicts to the chemicals. Sound familiar? So, a natural lawn/planting will better sustain itself than a manicured/over-watered/over-chemicalized lawn. BTW-I have an entire book on how to calculate fertilizers for golf courses. A course I had to take for my degree in horticulture was turf grass management. I really disliked it since I’m into native plantings/prairies.

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    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Thank you for explaining this so well, Ann. I have never been able to adequately explain to my Mom how my lawn can go so brown during drought and come back with no apparent long term damage and be beautiful and green once the rains return (within DAYS in most cases) yet hers when it goes brown remains dead and won’t come back. She waters with a sprinkler system and I never water mine.

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    • Ann, since this is your area of expertise, what is your opinion on the “organic” professional lawn services? Any good ones out there? If so what should people look for if they want to hire one? While my husband DIY’s it, it would be helpful info in trying to convert my neighbors.

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  19. Bernadene Whitten July 1, 2011 at 4:28 am

    I wants to plant a garden where there is grass now, but the laws in my state, Utah, won’t let me do so. I live in a state that encourages their citizens to be self sufficient, to grow a garden, and yet will not let me grow one in my front yard, such a waste, and I have yet to find a recipe to use all that grass in. So I have compromised and now grown in containers, that hang from every branch in my trees. Lettuce does well in containers and love the shade and early morning sunlight. Now I am fighting the laws about keeping chickens!

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  20. I totally agree. Another consideration is the fact that the perfectly manicured lawns are often over-fertilized lawns and are also contributing to the pollution of our waterways. Lawn fertilizers add Nitrogen and Phosphorus to the natural water systems and contribute to algal blooms. Some algal blooms occur naturally, especially during the hot summers, but the contribution of these elements to the waterways by humans cannot be overlooked. In Florida, the heavy summer rains move these elements from over-fertilized lawns directly into the rivers, bay and to the ocean. The environmental impact is unsightly, un-swimmable waters in some cases, fish kills and depletion of oxygen in the waters. For Florida, this is also a major economical impact due to the fact that we rely so heavily on tourism- if the waters are unsightly, smelly from major fish kills or un-swimmable, industries that rely on tourists suffer.
    Fortunately, we have programs such as the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (and others) that study environmental issues such as this for our area. Since removal of these elements once in the waterways is extremely expensive, the alternative is to prevent the entrance into the waterways in the first place. Programs such as TBEP(above) has been working to promote seasonal bans of fertilizer application in order to avoid these nutrients from running straight into the waterways. Regions in the area have voted to enact a summer fertilizer application ban for the rainy months since most of the fertilizer applied in the rainy months washes off lawns and runs straight to the bay anyway. Just another reason to go natural! (In addition to avoiding pesticides and wasting precious drinking water on lawns). A wonderful alternative is to plant vegetation that is native to your area, or to xeroscape. Both are much more interesting than a boring old lawn anyway and much less maintenance!

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  21. OH MY GOODNESS!!! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I have thought maybe I am the only one! I hate lawns too. I tell my husband if we ever built a house it would be situated to have no lawns! The time, money, and effort we Americans can spend on our lawns is insane. And I have never seen a well kept garden that I found more beautiful than wild things growing at will.

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  22. I hate pesticides and lawn chemicals of all kinds. I refuse to poison myself just because the neighbors are obsessed with having a “perfect” lawn. I refuse to put myself at risk for cancer and other chronic diseases just to get rid of a few weeds.
    Besides I love weeds and usually let them grow! Its like natural flowers already in your yard.

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  23. What’s barbaric is that a person can be taken to jail for not keeping up their lawn. Way to prioritize. Though why said person would move into an area that requires you to sign on to that ridiculous agreement on maintaining a lawn with grass not meant for that part of the country is beyond me.

    We hired an organic lawn service as soon as we bought our first house. Within a year, the front yard was transformed to lush green where it had been sparse and dandelion filled. As a matter of fact our neighbors started using the same service within another year because they were so impressed with our lush green lawn. We pull weeds by hand though there are hardly any growing at a time because the lawn is healthy enough to take care of itself. And our worm population is through the roof. Dozens of worms in every shovelful in the garden beds. And it’s so fun to hear the kids squeal with delight when a truly huge night crawler turns up. I figure if you can maintain a worm that is as thick as your finger and a good seven inches long, you have a healthy soil system.
    We do let the grass go dormant in summer, though it’s been so wet the past few years, it never has gone really brown. And it totally greens up within a day of the first fall rains while I see nearby lawns struggling to come back to life. And those get manicured and chemical-ed and watered all summer. :D

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  24. You would love our yard , then. We let one of our cows out each day to graze it, stake the lamb out each day, I herd my flock of goats around it each day to eat brushy stuff. We actually didn’t mow for the first time until 2 days ago! We have many weeds and grasses to feed our livestock.

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  25. We live in semi-arid Colorado and would rather have water for the kids and garden than a lawn. We have some potted plants and a mixture of texures from rocks and ceder bark and the “lawn” is a kidney bean shaped bit that covers a whopping 30 ft2. The backyard is just wild and a great deal of dirt. I can believe the water that people waste on something that can’t be eaten. I learned recently that we have the same water usage for our family of twelve and our garden as the elderly couple down the street and their inedble lawn.

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  26. I’m totally with you on this! I grew up on 7 acres with a back pasture to hold our cow and goats. I love the “rural” aspect of it. Now I live in an HOA neighborhood with a husband who is obsessed with a perfect yard. I’ve been wanting to put in a garden and he will only allow me the tiniest space where the grass wouldn’t grow and you can’t see from anywhere inside or outside the house. I think I might ignore him and put it right in the middle of his “perfect” lawn!

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  27. Because we live in Austin, TX, having a green lawn makes one suspect. We have several garden centers that only sell things that are safe and natural. I would be an outcast if I ever put anything harmful on my soil – it would end up in our aquifer and become part of the water supply. When we lost our entire side yard to drought last year, we put in a water-permeable path and plants that can survive without water (see blog http://www.seasonedhomemaker.com). The other half of the yard that died now has weeds which I call “our native grass collection”. I say I’m helping to restore the lost prairie grasses!

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  28. Michael Senecal June 30, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Homeowners should strive to maintain their property out of consideration for their neighbors. A neighborhood of homeowners is an investment group. Each homeowner is partially dependent on the others for the maintenance of property values. Until presentation and value become completely unrelated, the homeowner who neglects his lawn is expressing contempt for his neighbors. So I’m glad you moved out to the country. I wouldn’t want you to be my neighbor.

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      • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        Tell you what, Michael. Email me a picture of your lawn and I will take a picture of my yard and I will put them side by side on my blog and let the viewers decide. Your chemlawn versus my au natural lawn that hasn’t had any spraying or watering in 20 years. Whatcha say?

        Are you game??

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        • And I have to say, I wish you were my neighbor, Sarah! We have a small yard, and we do “maintain” it – but it’s mostly my husband pulling weeds while the kids are outside playing. He enjoys mowing and that kind of “chore”. I wish our neighbors wouldn’t use chemicals. Not to mention, think of how much money you save (not including possible long-term harm to your health from the chemicals) without all the upkeep.

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    • Value and beauty are in the eye of the beholder, and a thing is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. “Property values” is a thinly disguised codeword for violating the right to private property. Your communist ideals are what is ruining America.

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  29. We live in the woods and have only a very small yard circling the house that we actually mow. (Like you said Sarah, look out for the snakes) I would like a alternative to spray for mosquitos because they get really bad this time of the year. The bathouses are not quite enough help. Any ideas?

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  30. You inspired me to come out of the closet about my overgrown lawn. There were many reasons not to mow all of it this year and I hang my head in shame when one of my friends sees me and says, “You need to cut your grass!” They just don’t get it. Glad to find a kindred spirit on this! Watch for my field turned yard turned field (pasture?) story coming soon!

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  31. I completely agree with you! not to mention the round-up people use to kill the weeds is made by MONSANTO! I hate that company.

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  32. We live in a deed restricted neighborhood and thus have a lawn. However we have found that a lawn is a good place for play. I’ve been working on the soil in a few spots to get it ready to grow some edibles and my husband does all rest of the maintanance himself using natural methods (gotta do something with the food the kids don’t finish). As my beliefs line up with yours and my husband dreams of golf course living this was the best compromise we could come up with. Given how great our lawn looks we’ve even converted some of the neighbors, mostly ones with small children. When our kids outgrow romping in the yard I have plans to convert the front lawn to edible landscaping. The husband isn’t quite sold on it yet, but I have a few years to work on him (and admittedly my gardening skills).

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      • I was wondering the same thing…thanks for the reply. We just moved into a new house, and I know the previous owners weren’t in any way ‘green’. I want to start gardening, etc, but I was unsure of whether it would be smart to use the soil as is. I’ll probably just start container-gardening for the time being.

        Here’s another question for you that is unrelated to lawns, but has everything to do with pesticides. We live in an area where it is EXTREMELY frowned upon not to have your home treated for termites on a regular basis. I see no way around it, but am wondering if there is a safe way to do it? I really hate not to be able to utilize the soil around the house because of possible contamination.

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        • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

          I personally would never put that termite stuff in the ground around my property no matter what. If you get termites you can treat them in a nontoxic manner. There is a company in our area that gets rid of them with orange oil. Come to think of it, they might do prevention in a nontoxic way too. The company is Earth’s Best.

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  33. Who knew I was being so green and healthful by simply letting my yard be. All we do is mow it when it needs it. We also don’t rake the leaves, but now over them until they’re mulch. We get so many compliments, too. My sil wanted a golf course type lawn like her neighbors, but my brother wisely refused. Their entire back yard is wild thyme! Besides, how would I get loving, cheerful yellow tussie mussies of dandelions from my children if we abused our lawn?

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    • I’ve read that cornmeal will get rid of ant mounds…never tried it, but it is said they ingest it, and it expands inside them and they die. There are also natural bug killers out there that they HATE which consist only of natural ingredients, usually clove oils and various mint oils, and sometimes citrus oils. That would be more of a topical thing rather than entire mounds. But give the cornmeal a try. Also, a couple of different things you can do to repel mosquitoes are to plant marigolds (they hate the smell) around your gathering areas, and like Sarah mentioned in another post, build and install a bat house. Bats LOVE mosquitoes. =) Here in Savannah we have the added ‘bonus’ of sand gnats’, and I’m still trying to figure out how to keep those little buggers away. =D

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  34. I’m also against any form of chemicals in the yard. The only “fertilizing” i do is throw around alfalfa pellets a couple times a year. The kids love to help with this as well. They fill up their sand buckets and run around the yard flinging the pellets everywhere. Lots of fun!

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  35. Wow, you would love our house. We live in unincorporated Gwinnett County, north of Atlanta, and our house backs up to wooded county property. Our backyard is mixed pine hardwoods, and the small patch of what some might call a “lawn” in the front yard takes about 5-10 minutes to mow and consists of nothing but native herbaceous vegetation. The wooded backyard was actually the main selling point for us (we’re both wildlife biologists).

    When my husband goes out to mow, he announces that he’ll be back in 10 – he’s going to mow the weeds. :-)

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    • Don’t rake your leaves. Just mulch them with the mower. I lived on a military installationa and every year the soldiers would be out raking and bagging leaves. I drove me crazy> Not only were they picking up leaves, but some of the top soil as well. My neighbors also being good soldiers were doing the same. As I watch them struggle, I pulled out my mower and ran over the crisp fall leaves and watch then disappear behind it. In a half hour I was finished and they were still raking away!

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  36. Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama June 30, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Most of my backyard is wild (inedible, unfortunately) strawberry plants. Hardly grass anymore at all. The front is a big mix of weeds and grass. I get lots of dandelions in the spring. I consider it “harvest season!” Frankly I think lawns are generally a waste of space. Why not use that space for growing herbs or food — things that are useful? Most ornamental plants make no sense to me at all. There is a family near my church whose entire yard is consumed by gardens, they sell what they produce at a little stand in their yard. I love it.

    I do water my gardens. :) but I don’t water my lawn. Or do much of anything to it ever. Don’t people even realize how useless lawns really are? Grass is only good if you’ve got cattle to feed. Otherwise it’s wasted space.

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    • Jessica Klanderud June 30, 2011 at 2:59 pm

      Now getting a cow would really tick off a homeowners association :-). You could claim you decided to go with a gas friendly lawnmower…

      Reply
  37. You should put a photo up of your lawn. My husband is in charge of our yard and he loves the chemicals and the expanse of manicured lawn. Plus we do live in one of those HOA’s that will send out a letter if a weed gets over 1 foot tall. I’m not even joking. Our HOA even requires that we have a sprinkler system installed in our yard. I much prefer my Mema’s backyard growing up where everything was “wild” and there were different textures to play with. Making mud pies is SO much more fun when you’ve got different kinds of weed/seed pods to put in the mix. Our backyard is a boring slate of green grass with tons of plastic toys to keep the kids entertained.

    Reply
    • I should add, the lawn belongs to my husband, but the flowerbeds belong to me. I’ve replaced the ornamental bushes with strawberry plants and blueberry bushes! I want to replace the crepe mertle with a fruit bearing tree, but it’s a pretty big tree now and it’d be hard to remove. I’d like to “relocate” it to the backyard, but that really would be too expensive, so I may just plant that fruit tree in the backyard instead. The idea was to have a front flowerbed that was all edible to sort of say haha to my HOA. Follow the rules, but just barely!

      Reply

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