Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What's Wrong With Grass?


I don't get it. I read post after post by gardeners talking about and actually getting rid of most or all of their grass. I get the feeling that grass is supposed to be a bad thing to have.

I like grass. I like grass without weeds (even though we don't have that kind of grass). I like grass that feels wonderfully cool and cushiony to walk on in the summer. I like seeing its pure greenness and I love the smell of it when it's been freshly cut.

So I ask, what is wrong with grass? Is it because you don't want to mow it? I can certainly understand that. But is there some other reason? I have a feeling there is, but I'm in the dark as to what it is and I honestly want to know so I can understand this no-grass trend.

Please! Enlighten me! Maybe I'll want no grass too (but I don't think so).

14 comments:

Muum said...

I think it is 'greener' to have less grass, because the turf takes more water (an issue in the West, is it in the Mid-west?) and chemical use to keep it looking good, than if the land was planted in, say, native plants. Sometimes a good strategy is less lawn, not no lawn.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I don't think grass is so bad. I think that what people do to lawns is what is bad. Too many chemicals are used to "kill" weeds and insects in lawns. I am afraid that humans and wildlife will also be "killed".

I see a big patch of lawn like the top of a table. What should go there to make it look interesting. That is what I am thinking about this big patch of lawn in our backyard. It doesn't get any chemicals so I am satisfied there. We have so much shade that the grass is patchy. Not pretty at all. So my mind is busy designing and redesigning until I come up with a plan.

Kylee said...

With one acre here, it's unthinkable for us to have no grass. Even if we plant something else in its place, it would be difficult for it to look like anything but an unkempt meadow and I don't want that. Not that I have anything against meadows - I love them! - but not surrounding my house.

I totally understand about the chemical thing and in this era of us supposedly being "environmentally aware", I'm surprised those lawn services that come and treat lawns are still in business. But I guess not everyone sees the harm in it.

I hope no one thinks I'm being critical of their lawn/no lawn practices. I just really am trying to understand why so many are ridding their yards of grass.

I think those that are, are mainly on urban lots that are much smaller than what we have here. I can see where that can be done in many ways that are attractive.

I will always love grass, though. :-)

Rosie's Whimsy said...

I think grass is nice.....it's just I want more room to plant more flowers and bushes...so I am always trying to talk Hubby into giving me just a little more space :-) But then our acre is in the woods so grass doesn't thrive here very well anyhow.

Gina said...

the garden bloggers turned me against grass! i never even thought of it being a problem until I started reading about all the horrors. the thing that bothered me most was the lawn mower pollution. i dont water my grass at all but it still looks nice. If I could make myself get a manual mower I'd be a grass advocate.

Katie said...

Hey Kylee,

Grass isn't necessarily a bad thing. Really.

For me, it's the amount of precious fresh water used in the West to maintain impeccable lawns when it's 110 degrees outside that bugs me. Did you know that in my area, 70% of residential water use goes towards ORNAMENTAL landscape watering? Can you imagine what that would mean if I lived in the Atlanta area right now!! Yikes!

Perhaps you live somewhere where it rains a lot -- it you use organic fertilizers and a non-polluting mower (I still have a Honda gas powered one, so no throne here!), grass isn't bad at all!

But that's my $.02 on the issue. No hard feelings if you keep your grass, I promise!

vonlafin said...

I love grass too! To me, the grass is what sets off the shrub and perennial beds. I also would like to say, because we own a lawncare service, that our lawn gets fertilized regularly, but only weed killed about every third or fourth year. If you keep your lawn fertilized, the weeds don't have a chance.

Kylee said...

Thanks for your comments! Most of you that have responded have been those that have special circumstances where going "no lawn" is a reasonable option. (Wooded property where grass doesn't grow well anyway, small urban lots, etc.)

No, water isn't an issue for us. We never water our lawn. Romie sets the mower level higher so the grass grows thicker and shades the root area, which also helps with weed control. And of course, the grass clippings go on the compost pile.

As with any 'issue' such as this, it's a give and take kind of thing. In order to do one thing, you may have to give up something else. That's easier for some to do than others, and downright impossible for a few.

I agree, vonlafin, with your comment about the lawn setting off the landscaping and flower bed. There is a blog here that posted some pictures of their flower beds and I was struck by the beauty of them and part of it was because of the beautiful lawn surrounding them.

Everyone needs to do what they need to do. We may not agree or even understand things completely, but it helps to know the motivation behind the actions.

Rosehaven Cottage said...

Kylee, You are very fortunate to live in the Midwest where you don't have to water a lawn. When I've visited your neck of the woods I've envied being about to have a big green lawn and actually NEED a riding mower. But out here on the West coast (even in No. California) our mediterrenean climate gives us little to not water during the summer. No grass is just not practical. But we have gorgeous green hills January-May with our winter and spring rains, so that's the trade-off. Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

MrBrownThumb said...

Kylee,

I love that you used a green color for your font on this post. That's great. People above gave you some good pros and cons for lawns. I think that for those of us that live in areas where the water isn't a big issue now it isn't that big of a deal. If you want to get flamed try the garden forum on craigslist and post about how much you love lawsn. If the ecovagelists are around you'll get an earful and a bunch of reasons why people don't like lawns.

Kylee said...

MrBrownThumb - I think I'll stay away from there. My skin isn't very thick. LOL.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

I don't water (or fertilize) my grass, either... in fact, I think that just because we in the Midwest don't have a problem with stretched water resources YET doesn't mean that we should act like we have a bottomless well and use as much water as we want. (That is just a general statement, more in response to something I read in my local paper a few weeks ago than to anything written in the above comments, for the record.)

I also think it's a pain to mow, and that lawn mowers (and weed whackers, ugh) aren't the most environmentally friendly machines, either. I suppose that I should just go buy a blades-only mower and be done with it, but it's hard for me to spend that kind of money right now when I already have grandma's old gas-powered mower. And when I could otherwise spend that money on plants to increase my yard's diversity, provide more host plants for good bugs, etc.

And so I am getting rid of all of my front yard's grass that I can. In the backyard, however, I have a quandry. I enjoy walking on grass... and smelling it freshly cut... and laying on it to look up at the blue sky on the first warm day of spring. :) And I also don't think that most groundcovers would stand up to dog traffic (and frequent dog naps, and the occasional game of frisbee) the way that lawn grass does.

So once I get the border shaped and edged the way I want I will be replacing the old, pain-in-the-butt traditional fescue/bluegrass mix lawn with something more environmentally friendly: A short fescue, blue grama or buffalo grass. These are some grasses that you only have to cut a few times a year (and only then if you really want to keep them clipped like a lawn) and they are pretty drought-tolerant, too.

As far as other reasons go...
Well, I admit that I have always liked a challenge, and maybe I do want to prove a bit of a point: That xeriscaping doesn't have to equal "zero-scaping" or involve only plants that make me look like I'd prefer to be living in the desert near Santa Fe. That's the artistic arrogance in me coming out, I'm afraid... most artists work within a set of chosen limitations. I think that in the garden, xeriscaping, no-mow and organic gardening are mine.

Kylee said...

I have no doubt that your yard is nothing short of an artistic masterpiece, Kim. You always think things out so well, so it works. And again, I can see it for your urban lot. Here on our acre, the cost would be either prohibitive to do what you're doing with such nice plants, or it would look a little too free-range for my taste by going the "native" route.

I'm understanding the reasons many people are ridding themselves of grass, although I don't think I'll ever quite 'get it,' with the exception of those that live in the southwest. In some places, grass just doesn't even look like it belongs, you know?

Louise said...

We had a neighbor that was a paraplegic who loved his lawn. In his passing, his family helped fund an enabling garden in our children's park. One of the requests was to have a planter planted with grass because this was something that he had not had the privilege of being able to touch any longer. Some of the simplest things that we take so much for granted are more therapeutic than we can imagine. Grass is necessary to many of us for different reasons.

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