Lawns: The Cash You Save May Be Your Own!

Please don’t hate me for this, but I have to speak up about something that many Americans consider sacred: the lawn. Sure, I love that plush green outdoor rug, but in NO WAY do I look forward to the weekly mowing ritual. Talk about a totally silly human custom! Lawn mowing seems so fruitless. We certainly spend a lot of time tending a crop we can’t eat! Well, I suppose you could eat it; but you can never be sure of whether it’s tainted with doggie weewee.

The primary reason our lawn gets mowed is that I have a spouse. Left to my own devices, our yard would probably grow into the giant weed patch that Mom Nature intended it to be. Since our marriage contract would never allow this; I have come to accept the weekly ritual of beheading the huge conglomeration of plants we call a lawn.

We don’t bag up the clippings or fertilize or anything; just mow. Fortunately, my wife and I agree that the less work a lawn brings, the better off we are. She’d love to have a “golf course lawn,” but she knows how environmentally icky that would be. When the lawn comes up in discussion at our house, she laments, “we don’t have a lawn, we have a yard.” God bless my poor Honey Pie… although she’d love to have “a real lawn,” she has accepted the fact that all the fertilizers and other chemicals needed to do that would be very insulting to Mother Nature.

Some people are very fussy though; they water, fertilize and carefully inspect the blades of greenery. They want to make absolutely sure that grass and ONLY grass is growing! I’d love to invite some of those types to inspect my weedy ground, and watch them go nuts. Then I’d invite them in for a grapefruit milk shake and complain about the terrible waste they’re generating. I just think it’s weird that folks actually spend money to poison the ground with weed killers and fertilizers so they can wash it into my drinking water with underground sprinkling systems. This runoff isn’t any good for lakes and streams, either.

Most types of weed killers are designed to kill, among other things, white clover! Being a legume, clover makes nitrogen in the soil (as all good legumes do), and feeds the lawn. Remember finding four leaf clovers when we were kids? They were in the LAWN (or maybe just the yard…). But now the lovely clover has been dubbed a weed, and for too many of today’s home owners; weeds in the lawn are taboo. Personally, I’m grateful for clover and its weedy mates. They join together with the grass to form a nice carpet at our place; one we’re not afraid to play Tackle The Kids on. If we go a little while between mowings, we get some beautiful flowers, too! By the way, white clover seed is readily available at most feed stores; nudge-nudge, wink-wink. No special tools needed, just fling it about here and there if you want to add clover to your yard carpet.

Some folks even post KEEP OFF THE GRASS signs! Something like that is more anti-American than flag burning if you ask me. How does the stuff get mowed if you have to KEEP OFF? People must be mowing, though, and they DO bag the clippings. Instead of letting them hit the ground where they can decompose into humus (more lawn food that helps soil hold moisture), they send them off to consume scarce cubic feet at the landfill. Why not let the clippings lie, and SAVE MONEY on garbage bags? If you get too many clippings due to extended mow – procrastination (like me), they make great mulch for the garden! Thankfully though, many communities place yard waste in a large pile and compost it. I’m one of those weirdos who actually goes to the dump to retrieve grass clippings and leaves. At our local transfer station, they are free for the taking. Excellent soil building material for the vegetable or flower garden.

So… why not let Mom Nature water instead of sprinkling? It’s possible you could SAVE MONEY. Sure, an occasional drought might mandate a little rain dance with the hose. Or not!! Grass will go dormant during a drought, and usually comes back when the rain returns. At least, that’s true here in Beautiful West Michigan. Watering the lawn makes it grow more, so you mow more. And hey, there’s something intensely sad about an automatic sprinkler system running full-tilt-boogie during a thunderstorm. Oh, and I bet you’d SAVE MONEY if you didn’t buy the weed killers and fertilizers. That would help keep our lakes and streams healthy, too.

So hey, next time you’re SPENDING MONEY on all those nasty chemicals for the domestic hay crop; just ask yourself, “Self, what would happen if I didn’t do this anymore?” I mean, would it be so terribly bad if a lawn took on a more “natural” character? I put “natural” in quotes because lawns don’t really occur in the wild. But all those nasty “weeds” do, and a lot of them were invaluable to our ancestors for food and medicine. And yes, those “weeds” still are very valuable; and there are even folks who seek them out while foraging for food or medicinal flora.

A suggestion: quit with the fertilizers, weed killers, and lawn watering already. The very worst that could happen is that your yard would become filled with useful (and often beautiful) plants. With something simple like the lawn, there are lots of opportunities to be environmentally responsible.

And oh yeah, did I mention you can SAVE MONEY?

I couldn’t find any good cartoons about mowing the lawn; so this week’s video is just plain weird… so I thought I’d better share it with you.