Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sustainable Living project - The no-mow lawn


Jan, at Thanks for Today, is hosting the Garden Bloggers Sustainable Living Project, in recognition of Earth Day, April 22, 2010. She asks bloggers to write about things that we have done to promote a greener lifestyle and contribute to protecting our environment. Lots of nice prizes are being offered (including a rain barrel, oh yeah!) so if you haven't joined yet, time is running out!

So I've been mulling this project over in my mind, trying to decide what to write about. I know I'm a very environmentally conscious guy. I'm obsessive about recycling. Our city accepts almost all recyclable items, except for glass (that irks me!). But I won't complain because many of our neighboring towns don't even have recycling programs.

Other things I do:

Composting - It is not the greatest compost pile and I don't tend to it like I should but any garden wastes and proper kitchen scraps are thrown in.

Chemicals - I don't use them except in cases of extreme emergencies. I don't spray my roses and rarely use fungicides. If I'm dealing with a problematic plant, I shovel prune it. I do use weed killers to maintain my sanity but I also try to use environmentally friendly products if I can find them.



Then it finally hit me - a big project that I started last year and shared it here - our no-mow lawn (or do you even call it a "lawn" if there is no grass? hmmm). Anyway, you may recall that I had a dickens of a time getting grass to grow in one of the few places I wanted grass - in our front lawn area. What started out as a sunny area had become quite shaded, like many other parts of the garden, and tree roots from the "October Glory" maple had created a thick web of roots on the surface of the ground. No wonder the poor grass struggled.

I thought I had solved the problem two years ago when I planted fescue, a grass that thrives in shaded areas. It started out good and I was pleased as punch to have a lush verdant patch of grass in the middle of winter. My excitement was soon crushed later that summer when the grass promptly died in our summer heat. I don't want to discourage anyone from using fescue because I see it growing in other lawns around town and it is beautiful. But it did not like our yard or maybe I didn't give it enough water (again, those cursed tree roots!).




The solution - out with the grass! I reluctantly decided to kill the remaining grass and create beds of dwarf mondo grass along with pathways of crushed gravel. I've been working on this in various stages this past year and so far I am very happy with the results. The dwarf mondo grass is drought tolerant and it doesn't seem to be bothered by the tree roots. I used pea gravel for the pathways and I love the sound of it as you walk across it. But most of all, it saves me the time and expense of mowing. Mowing has never been a favorite chore so it is not a task I'm going to miss. I still have a few areas of grass to mow but the largest section of grass that once comprised the front entryway of our home is gone, and my initial fear of there not being enough "green" was needless.

So, in the end, I think this is a good thing - I'm saving time (now maybe I can catch up on my weeding :( ), expenses for gas and lawn mower maintenance, mechanical frustrations which always seem to follow me, and no noise or gas fumes polluting the neighborhood.



Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

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16 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Great write up Phil. I about cracked up when you mentioned you would get caught up on your weeding. Is that possible?? Every time I think I am caught up I walk outside and voile there is the dreaded weed laughing at me. I hope to have the last laugh though.
I think it admirable that you don't mow now. I hate to "hear" the roar of the mowers. Sometimes in our neighborhood it sounds like a symphony. UGH...

Di said...

Phillip, lovely garden! We too have the pea gravel paths throughout the landscaping and the only grass we have is ornamental. When we moved here 17 years ago, my husband said, "no lawn" and we do love the alternative.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Phillip, from what I've read, not mowing a lawn is a huge benefit to the environment. They say small gas engines are worse polluters than automobiles not to mention the 16-million gallons of gasoline they estimate is wasted when filling lawnmower tanks that overflow onto the ground. Kind of sobering statistics.
Marnie

David - Pinewood Cottage said...

Y'all are so funny - I am just the opposite. I love cutting grass and love pulling weeds - one frustration per weed... this time of year the weeds are plentiful and so are the frustrations at school. If you see weeding, you'll here me talking to each weed.

Cameron said...

Great no-mow lawn! I remember the stories about this project and it looks wonderful.

Tim said...

And most important, it's just beautiful!

LC said...

You have such a beautiful yard... I really love it. I like having some lawn and enjoy mowing it. However, I seldom use chemicals on it and fertilize with milorganite. As far as the mower noise... we live amongst farms and my lawn tractor is pretty quiet compared to all the farm machinery surrounding us and zipping here and there most of the day. Quiet usually comes around 7:00 p.m. and it really is appreciated in the evening! Larry

Gary said...

I wonder if the garden of eden was weed free?

Aerelonian said...

Looks great. I don't think I want a lawn. Why waste the space when it could be stuffed with plants? I'll keep in mind the post for April 22.

Jean said...

It looks very nice Phillip and is a certain gift to the environment. I wish you would be my neighbor so I wouldn't have to contend with all the lawnmower pollution around here. ;-)

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

LOVE the no-mow lawn, Phillip. I'm working on making more of ours disappear regularly, pointing out to my dearly beloved that this means less mowing for HIM. I think it's rather considerate of me, don't you?

Chandramouli S said...

Nice post, Phillip. As always I admire your garden and glad that you've given up on mowing. I've heard many people complain as to how tiring a task it is.
Nurseries here sell many types of grass like the Japanese grass, Bermuda grass, Carpet grass, to name a few that comes to my mind. I think carpet grass would be best for you as it loves shade and best for cold, wet climates.

fairegarden said...

It looks fabulous, Phillip! The paths are so inviting and the dwarf mondo so much more elegant than its larger liriope cousin. You might find that welcome volunteer seedlings love that gravel as well. Our small town has the best recycling program, they take everything! We have to take it there, but that is not a problem and saves the city mucho dinero on the trucks, personal, etc. Lawns, who needs 'em! :-)
Frances

Melanie said...

Congratulations on your low maintenance mondo grass lawn. I planted a clover lawn for exactly the same reasons. I never mow, water or fertilize it and it is hardy in our northern winters.

Nature Assassin said...

Love it! Grass is so overrated. And mondo grass is so very adorable.

Jan (Thanks For Today) said...

Hi Phillip, I apologize for not stopping by sooner. I truly enjoyed your post, and thank you for joining in;-)

Guess what? You're a winner! Congratulations;-)

http://thanksfor2day.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-earth-day-contribution-and.html