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Friday Favorite: Green Grass

May 15th, 2015

It’s a beautiful thing to see so much green this time of year. It seems like all you need is a bit of rain and a few warm days and the grass starts growing like crazy.
I love seeing green everywhere I look. Soon enough all the deciduous trees will have their leaves and green will be once again the predominate color of the landscape. Even though I’ll tire of it later in the summer, I’m relishing the need to mow!

What seasons are most green in your climate?

The Organic Lawn

September 17th, 2012

Just like the rest of my gardens, the lawn here at Chiot’s Run is organic. It doesn’t require much care, mowing a few times a month and a top dressing of chicken manure twice a season. Other than that, it’s left to fend for itself. I’d describe the lawn as “a mixed herbal lawn”. Whatever grows is allowed to stay.

The lawn area has shrunk by at least half since we moved in. It was replaced with food and seed producing plants. We’ll never be without a little spot of lawn though, I really love the look and I think if you allow mixed herbs and wildflowers to grow it does add a beneficial habitat to your garden.

As a result, I can count about 15-20 different species of plants; different grasses, white Dutch clover, plantain (both tall and short), creeping charlie, wild violets, and a few other various species of “herbs”. The lawn is also full of insects of all shapes and sizes, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, ants, spiders, moths, and many other things that creep, crawl, hop, burrow, and slither.

To some of my neighbors, this would be a travesty. They’d douse their lawns with chemicals to get rid of weeds, kill bugs, and to make the remaining finely bladed grass lush and green. Organic lawns really are healthier, the mix of plants provides an ecosystem all it’s own. My lawn is teeming with life, even after this summer’s drought. My neighbor’s perfectly sprayed carpet of green on the other hand, is mostly dead.┬áThis was their lawn last week:

This was my lawn last week:

So what can you do to help your lawn and go organic?

  • overseed with some white dutch clover
  • allow herbs and other plants to grow
  • add rock dusts according to your soil type, like gypsum, etc.
  • use natural fertilizers like chicken manure, bone meal and blood meal
  • top dress with compost or other organic matter

The proof is in the pudding when it comes to tough summers like this one. My lawn was lush and green most of the summer. A few varieties of grass and other plants went dormant, but other ones kept going strong. Because I don’t add chemicals, the soil gets better each year and thus the lawn looks better and better each and every year, even when there’s a drought.

Do you have any area of the garden dedicated to a lawn?

Edging Flowerbeds

July 2nd, 2009

Edging the flowerbeds makes everything look neat and tidy, even if your beds are a mess of flowers and some weeds. I’ve been spending some time edging the front flowerbeds this month making everything look nice.
I have chosen not to add a plastic or metal edge in my garden because I’m often expanding and changing the beds. So each year I trim the edges of the lawn to keep them nice and tidy and to give me a nice mow edge along the borders. I usually fill the area I cut out with mulch to keep the weeds away.
Do you take the time to edge your flowerbeds?

The Democratic Front Lawn

April 24th, 2009

“Deeply ingrained within the American phyche is the stereotype I call “The Democratic Front Lawn.” This type of lawn is a perfectly manicured swath of open turf that starts at the street and sweeps back, carpetlike, up to the traditional foundation plantings that skirt the house. It’s democratic because everyone can see it all –There’s no place to hide –yet somehow there is no display of unfettered free expression–everyone conforms to the standard lawn and foundation-planting solution. Thus, many front yards give passersby little information about the people who live there. With the size of the lots shrinking, it may be time to rethink what we do with this important zone of our house. (It’s not unlike the unused space inside many over sized houses – the formal dining room that rarely sees diners or the massive great room that is shunned in favor of a cozier den). Leaving the front yard as a bland useless space is a waste of resources and ingenuity and certainly doesn’t foster a sense of neighborliness.”

–Julie Moir Messervy (Home Outside)

I’m trying to liberate my lawn to make more flowerbeds for beneficial and edible plants. I also don’t use chemicals on my lawn so the dandelions and wild violets thrive (besides, why would you spray out those lovely wild violets pictured above). I’m hoping to eventually create a landscape around my home that is both beautiful and functional with a minimal space for lawn. Check out these photos, how incredible are these undemocratic landscapes!

What do you think, a big beautiful green carpet leading up to your home, a small patch of grass for playing but surrounded by flowers or no lawn?
(New Poll)

Liberating More Lawn

March 10th, 2009

“But each spring…a gardening instinct, sure as the sap rising in the trees, stirs within us. We look about and decide to tame another little bit of ground.” — Lewis Gantt

With the coming of spring I’m planning out my gardens and inevitably I don’t have space to grow everything I want to grow. So I keep eying different areas of my yard wondering what I could convert to growing space. I’m considering bringing the lawn in from the edges of the property in the front yard by 4-5 feet on each side, that would give me a good 500-600 sq ft of growing area on one side and 200-300 on the other. One side is bordered by an empty wooded lot, so I wouldn’t have to worry about neighbors, but the tree roots pose a bit of a problem.
The other side is behind a fence, I cleared the area of saplings last summer but never planted anything there. I’m thinking both of these spot are prime for tomatoes and other full-sun vegetables. I could also expand our front flowerbed in from the road some more and that would also add a few hundred square feet of growing space. In one of these areas I’d like to grow a lot of flowers like zinnias, cleome and globe amaranth for the bees and other beneficial insects. I also would like to put a 1-2 foot wide flowerbed by the rock wall that flanks our driveway, that would be lovely with a big row of lavender.
Whatever I decide it’s going to be a lot of back building work digging it all up (you remember our rocky soil), but it will be worth it in the end.

Are you thinking of liberating any of your lawn to expand your veggie beds this year?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.