We have been talking the last few months about taking the time during the slower winter months to plan our spring gardens. Our focus has been on annuals, perennial’s, seeds, and shrubs for the garden. This month we look at another green area, the vast wasteland we call “The Lawn.”
Our views on grasslands are largely influenced by the European Formal Gardens with their vast panoramas of manicured lawns. We spend untold time and money on cultivating, planting, fertilizing, and maintaining these short grass lawns. We even mow our roadside’s and parklands short like our lawns. Much of what we do is driven not by necessity but, because of what we think we must do so to conform to our community standards of appearance and behavior.
In our subdivision, every Saturday morning we each get out our mower and start cutting away. If one of us was to miss this ritual mowing, it would be assumed that we were sick and most likely the other neighbors would pitch in and get the job done. Many times, I must confess, we have cut our lawn when it really did not need it. This behavior is even stronger in the rural/suburban areas where vast amounts of acreage are mowed. Take a drive in the country sometime and look at the large lawns.
Fortunately, this obsession with manicured lawns and short grasses is shifting. Tall grass lawns are becoming more and more acceptable. Mowing the roadsides also seems to be falling out of fashion. We see more of “The Lawn” being converted to tall grass prairies or wild flower gardens (see May 1997 Yard Talk) which has a positive effect on the natural environment. You will be amazed at the increased number of birds, butterflies, and animals you will see just by not mowing parts or all of your lawn.
Tallgrass lawns such as these are referred to as Eurasian Lawns as they are made up of grass species native to the European Continent. While they do produce an abundance of wildlife, it is nothing like what can be found in our native prairie grasses or eastern meadows.
Some of the advantages to the homeowner in reducing or eliminating mowing are:
- Time saved in not having to mow.
- Reduced noise and air pollution.
- Money saved on equipment purchases or lawn service.
- Increased plant and animal variety.
- No need to use costly chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides.
Maybe the results will not be earthshaking but, just possibly, a few more birds and butterflies will find their way into your neighborhood. You can say, at least in some small way, you helped promote bio-diversity. After all, while those manicured lawns look neat and tidy they are also very sterile. Why not this season take the plunge, think different, and start your own Tallgrass Prairie?