American summer afternoons are filled with the sounds, smells, and toxins of gas-guzzling lawn mowers, weed-whackers, clippers, edgers, trimmers, spreaders, sprayers and sprinklers. But with an eco lawn, you can spend your summer (and fall and spring) relaxing in peace.
Manicured grasses cover 40,000 square miles of the United States, eating up a huge portion of the 100 million pounds of pesticides and herbicides homeowners buy every year.
We buy the turf-builder, the bug killer, the MiracleGro, with all the best intentions. But what we may not realize is that a lot of those chemicals seep down into the soil, contaminating groundwater, coming off on pets and children, and often causing harm to aquatic ecosystems.
Having an eco lawn is actually much easier than a traditional trimmed turf, and it can look like regular lawn or take on a more organic structure depending on what kind of landscaping you desire.
The Look-Alike Eco Lawn
This type of ground cover will have you sipping cool lemonade with a good book while your neighbor sweats behind his mower… and you’ll have a lawn that looks just like his, or better!
With this seed from Wildflower Farm, your Eco-Lawn is literally in the bag. You can plant it in the fall or spring. It’s quick to germinate, but takes a while to grow.
Once its roots creep deep into the ground (9 – 12 inches compared to traditional turf’s few inches), you’ll have a thick, lush lawn.
The Eco-Lawn fescue grass seeds grow well in any kind of lighting, and are drought resistant. The grass’ long hearty roots and fine blades choke out shorter-rooted weeds, so once you plant it there is very little maintenance.
That includes mowing. It grows slowly and looks wonderful even when long, as the blades bend down and create a tufted carpeting. If you want a more traditional look to your lawn, you can mow it. But you only have to mow once every few months as compared to a traditional lawn’s weekly grooming.
Switching over to an EcoLawn is simple, weather you’re starting from scratch or planting over an existing grass. Check out this GardenGirl video for step-by-step planting instructions.
Indigenous and Edible Landscaping
The people around the corner from me recently had a new neighbor complain about their “unkept” yard. This was in early spring. Their response was, “Be patient.”
By the end of summer, the yard in question blossomed with beautiful patches of Black-Eyed-Susans, clumps of chives, grapevines along the fence. Neat stone pathways wound between their beds of strawberries, mint, and rhubarb leading back to a compost bin and garden shed.
In the fall, their edible landscaping was brown and crisp, except for the bright spots of mums in planters by the front door. But whose lawn doesn’t turn brown in the late fall? Theirs was just more natural, and waiting for the cycle of life to transform it.
All the work you put into an edibly landscaped yard comes back to you. If you’re using organic plants and compost, as well as natural insect control, you are not contaminating groundwater or effecting habitats.
In fact, you’ve built an incredible sustainable ecosystem while putting seasonal organic food on your table. It’s a win-win.
Yard Reduction Solution
For a more eco-friendly lawn without reseeding or planting vegetables, simply use one of our earth-friendly R’s: Reduce.
Take look at your property line. Does your neat and trim grass go all the way to the fence or sidewalk?
Yes? Expand your boundaries by building plant beds or natural stone walks spreading a few feet in from your property’s edge. Whether you plant flowers, tomato plants, herbs or shrubs in the space, you will benefit from having less turf to tend.