Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Why Bother, It'll Just Grow Back...

I'm not really into large open lawns of close-cropped grass and neatly edged boundaries. My wife kind of leans that way, but she still puts up with me and my more rustic lawn ideas. I usually let the grass grow until I start to hear picky complaints, like... "Can I borrow the machete, I need to go out to the car".
We maintain our "lawn" with a small push mower (See "Mowflex" post back in June). This inexpensive mower works great, although by the time you work your way around the yard, it's usually time to start over again.
I just can't see spending a fortune to keep the grass looking like a carpet. I always shake my head in amazement when I see guys riding a $3000 mower on a tiny suburban quarter acre lot. Wasn't there anything else at Home Depot to spend that money on?
We once had a goat named "Buffet" for grass mowing. Buffet ate grass, but he also ate my fruit trees and my garden. He was like Houdini when it came to escaping and even rolled a log over to the fence so he could step up on it and jump the fence. At night he would appear on the porch peering in the window. That was kind of freaky.The little push mower is less trouble and tends to stay where I put it.
Ninety percent of our acreage is in a natural state and loaded with a great mix of wildlife and native plants.It maintains itself. Only the area around the house is maintained as lawn and that is broken up with rambling flower plantings. The short-cropped lawn is pretty sterile with only an occasional bug passing through.
Today on a morning walk, I watched Flounder and Feather go out past the short lawn to the unmown Bahia grass beyond the mow zone. As soon as they crossed into the deep, cool unmown grass, they dropped and rolled on their backs uttering doggy contentment growls. They were like cats in catnip (is there dognip?).
In the field behind them the resident doe and her fawn stopped grazing and watched us intently. After determining us a a nonthreat, they continued browsing. The deer were in a true meadow that only gets cut or burned about once a year. As a result the variety of plants that grow there is much higher than the lawn, which is why the deer were there. Down by the pond, the unmown shores were glowing with the blossoms of wild coreopsis and marsh pinks. Flowering meadows are a great excuse for not mowing... "Honey, we can't mow it now, the coreopsis hasn't finished making seeds for next year...just give it a couple more months..."

6 comments:

thingfish23 said...

Amen, Amen, and Amen to that.

In the back, we are cutting the "lawn" out, little by little - bed by bed. I take the pieces we cut out and place them along a path that cuts through the lot longways (currently made up of self-eroding fill dirt). Or I fill in parts that should be "lawn" at the edge of the lot up by the house, but were never sodded in for some reason.

So we don't just trash the "sod" we have (actually an impressive mish-mash of plants with some bahia-grass mixed in). It just gets relocated to more sensible places.

In all, though, lawns blow. It's the same folks that have those lovely putting greens for yards that complain about the red-tide at the beach. Maybe they could breathe a little easier if they weren't busy dumping loads of fertilizers into the watershed.

Weary Hag said...

I like a wildly grown yard. The neighbors generally don't. My fiance spends way too much time on lawn maintenance, but we don't worry a hoot about the color... don't fret over bald patches and haven't spent exorbitant amounts of money on mowers.

Floridacracker said...

Thingfish,
Maybe the rising price of gasoline will inspire some folks to mow less, fertilize less, and try some no-mow areas in their lawns. We can hope...
WearyHag,
I'm with you on the wildly grown yard idea. When it comes to traditional lawns, "a little dab will do 'ya".
I guess use of that phrase dates me...

pablo said...

I read an account of a man in Illinois who converted his lawn to prairie, and then he had the neighborhood in alarm when he did his spring burns. Turns out he DID have the legal right to do so.

Floridacracker said...

Pablo,
More power to him. I can't imagine living in a neighborhood with "lawn rules". Where would I put my brush piles and that old truck up on blocks?

thingfish23 said...

Yep. Down here, "neighborhood associations" are the norm. Out where we chose to live, however, there is still a little thing called "freedom" when it comes to yards and landscaping.

This can be a good thing, and this can be a bad thing. It's a bad thing when people buy land, then proceed to clear it of every living thing before putting a house on it. Afterwards, all remaining cleared land is sodded over with water-sucking, pesticide-demanding lawn grass - and let's not forget the exotic landscape plants!

The upshot is this: Collier County has this dealy-o where if you want to clear a piece of land, you have to buy a piece of equal size and leave it alone. I'm not sure about the details, but I'll look 'em up and put something about it on the Weblog.

On our street, for every ONE decently landscaped home (from a design perspective as well as plant choice) there are easily FIVE eyesores. I've been wanting to start a sort of "Hall Of Shame" portion on my Blog with the most offensive ones of the bunch.

I may just do that...