The Suburban Lawn
This is my site Written by Geoff on May 1, 2000 – 6:15 pm

It is amazing the amount of time and money that is spent on the traditional bluegrass lawn. We have talked before about how much the average home owner spends to have a well manicured lawn. It has become almost a cult ritual every Saturday morning to fire up the lawn mower and pay homage to the Kentucky Bluegrass Icon before heading out to the country club for a round of golf. We fill our landfills with grass clippings, pollute our streams with fertilizer, and kill off our birds with pesticides so that our lawns have that iwell groomed look. 

Here, in the Midwest, if we were to quit mowing, fertilizing, and spraying, our lawns would soon become meadows and fields. Eventually woody plants would become established and over time the land would become forested again. We should face the fact that grass really does not want to grow where we want it to. 

In January’s Yard Talk we discussed the varieties of grass available to the homeowner, their strengths and weaknesses. Interestingly, as Stevie Daniels points out in The New American Lawn “Of the 14 species that the Lawn Institute claims are suitable for turf, only two are native — buffalograss, and red fescue. The typical lawngrasses — from Kentucky bluegrass to bermudagrass — are not native. 

While we are not saying the “All American Bluegrass Lawn” is bad, we are saying that there are alternatives. Just maybe we should quit beating our heads against the wall trying to grow something that really does not want to grow where we want it to and look at some of our native grasses. At the very least, we can return some of our greenscape to native varieties. If, every year, we planted orange trees, here in Zone 5, and every year they froze, we probably would soon say “Gee!, Maybe we should grow apple trees.” Why not the same with our lawns?

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Modified: March 8, 2009 at 9:19 am UTC

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