Posts tagged with "Native Plants"
Sustainable Landscapes: "Offing the Lawn"
Posted by lmulford on 06/16/11
Would you be willing to be a green pioneer in your neighborhood and rip out parts of your carefully manicured lawn? Huh? Why would I want to do that? I would tend to agree with that response except I’ve just finished reading this month’s selection of the Library’s Reading Green discussion group, Second Nature, by Michael Pollan. It has really made me consider a different perspective. This is a fun book to talk about and I hope you’ll join us on June 23 for the discussion.
Chosen by the American Horticultural Society as one of the 75 greatest books ever written about gardening, it’s a witty collection of essays that explores attitudes towards nature and wilderness, environmental questions, and what gardening teaches us about the overlapping of nature and culture. He has a chapter titled, “Why Mow? where he muses that "lawn mowing feels like copying the same sentence over and over." He offers a lot of food for thought about the absurdity of trying to grow something that is not native nor even suited to the geography and climate of most of our country.
Where did this love affair with the perfect lawn come from? According to Ted Steinberg, author of American Green ,it emerged in the aftermath of World War II, fueled by the surge in homeownership and the rise of suburbia. Social norms and corporate advertising made lush green lawns both desirable and achievable with the right products, of course, that had to be used season after season.
At the same time, I’ve been coming across the term “sustainable landscape” in more and more places. There seems to be a cultural shift taking place to convert the once coveted green lawn into a green-smart landscape as we face the realities of what all the fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals are doing to us and our ponds, streams, lakes and wildlife. The Daily Herald had an article about it last weekend, "Saving Creeks and Lakes – the Lawn and Short of It".
Garden Designer Rebecca Sweet also talked about it in her article, "So You Want to Create a No-Lawn Front Garden". She comments that she’s been noticing a growing trend over the past few years with more and more people wanting to replace their labor intensive front lawn with a beautiful low-water, low-maintenance garden. Take a look at the before and after photos she has provided. These are quite impressive makeovers.
So not quite ready to go out there and rip up your back 40? Maybe there can be a happy medium in moving toward a more sustainable landscape. When many of the trees in my yard reached a level of maturity where they were providing great energy-saving shade for our home, they were also putting a kibosh on the growth of our sunlight-starved grass. I finally decided to have a good portion of my lawn replaced with native perennials and shrubs. Sometimes I miss the wide expanse of green grass, but I love the plantings and the trees more and just like this new type of landscape, I’m learning more and more about living the way nature intended.