Full Member
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:10 am
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

I feel a lawn should be a garden, not just a lawn.

I'm both going to defend and scorn the use of politically correct and politically incorrect chemicals.

There are some occasions I think it is good to use harsh herbicides and insecticides; however I think they are way over used. I find sometimes harsh herbicides and insecticides are the only real effective treatment but I think it's best to use it sparingly as a spot treatment for troubled areas rather than to be used willy-nilly to blanket everything as routine maintenance.

I really don't like the chem lawn companies whether they use so-called industrialized chemicals or politically correct so-called green chemicals. They often over fertilize and over herbicide. The herbicides have reduced biodiversity anywhere from lawn and garden plants, to wildflowers, to insects, to frogs and fish.

The overuse of chem lawn herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers has caused trouble for our local lakes and streams and rivers. The herbicides kill off most of the diverse plant life that help keep the natural wildlife diversity broad. The herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers and of being a triple whammy against the natural wildlife diversity. The plant life in the local waterways is not as diverse as it used to be, neither is the insect life, frogs, fish, snakes and other wildlife have all seen a drop in what I would consider to be diverse and desirable species. The lakes have a tendency to fill up with silt quicker and need to be dredged more largely because the use of chemical lawn treatments cause a sporadic plant life growth spurts and die offs; and often results in an unbalanced plant life and unbalances all the dependent wildlife. The insecticides and fertilizers often form the fish and other wildlife because the chemical lawn treatments often cause sporadic cycles of swampy overgrowth and die offs that cause more sediment to build up. Some of the local parks have even added aerators to try to moderate the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the water; yet the lakes are still silting up like mad, and there is unusually violent algae and bacterial blooms.

I miss hearing the frogs and toads and crickets sing at night; there are still some left, but is not the chorus that used to be; nor are the natural predators as good at keeping the pests and check. Our overuse of herbicides and insecticides, and fertilizers has made us more dependent on them and in some ways has made us more vulnerable.

We never bagged our grass clippings; we have always let our grass clippings and as much leaves as possible go to mulch. Any areas that had too much leaves to mow over; we raked up and took to a compost pile. For the most part we didn't use herbicides or fertilizers and only a minimal use of insecticides. I used to buy clover seed to allow lawn to fertilize ltself as clover takes nitrogen out of the air and puts it into the soil. I used to seed in ajuga to part of our lawn to prevent erosion as its roots are longer. We used to allow some dandelions and moles and bugs on our lawn; yes sure in some ways they are irritating; but they help aerate and break up the soil to keep it from being a hard block and help keep things in balance. The frogs and toads would keep the insects in balance and serenade us to sleep.

Back in the 80s chemical lawn treatments started to become more popular. Many of our neighbors started to switch to commercial chemical lawn treatments. On a nice day their lawns looked better in some ways; however they lost the biodiversity that can make a yard so interesting. I've noticed in weather extremes that the laws that are treated with commercial chemical lawn treatments typically don't do as well since they don't have the diversity and the other factors from having diversity. I've noticed that when the weather is excessively wet that lawns that are commercially treated have a tendency to be more vulnerable to fungus and mildews. I've also noticed that the lawns are commercially treated have a tendency not to do as well when there is extreme heat or drought, the grass has a tendency to be more quick to turn brown and go dormant and/or die and cause erosion. The neighbors that used commercial chemical lawn treatments in the long run seem to have more problem with diseases, infestations and drought resistance.

One year in an area of our yard that does not have a property line fence, one of the chemical lawn companies that was working on a neighbor's lawn also did our front lawn by mistake and killed off all the aguga, clover, violets and strawberries; it took about three years and $60 worth of seed for our lawn to recover.

In the old days I used to be able to go to the garden center and buy bulk clover seed and aguga. The last time I bought some from the garden center, they no longer carried it and it had to be special ordered. The last time I tried to buy some at the garden center they said they would no longer order it and that I would have to search online to find some. For all this talk about going green; it seems in many ways we are going the opposite direction. If people were really so interested about seriously going green then there would be such a a high demand for clover seed at garden centers that they would have it in stock in bulk.

When I seed the lawn I do it in a way that promotes biodiversity and natural selection. The local hardware store still sells grass seed out of bins, so I usually take a few scoops out of each been of each type of grass. When I used to get clover I used to get several different types of clover. When I would get home I would mix the different types of grass seed and clover seed altogether then I would spread it and whatever lived: lived, and whatever died; died. I always figured that was natures way of selecting the best grass and clover for that section of the lawn as there was very conditions of traffic and light and water and soil throughout our lawn.

I thought the typically our lawn looked much better than the commercially treated lawns in the rest of the neighborhood. Sure often their lawns looked more uniform and to some that might be appealing, but I prefer having the different types of grasses, clover and other plants. I think it's nice to have a lawn that has a variety of grasses, and has the blues of the aguga and violets, and has the yellows from wild strawberries flowers and dandelions and is occasionally dotted with the red of wild strawberries. I think it's nice to have the whites and the pinks and the light blues from the flowering clover. I really like having pollinators coming to my lawn.

Since we were light on insecticide use and only used occasional spot treatments, our lawn had a lot of earthworms and other beneficial insects. The neighborhood kids used to come to our mulch pile to hunt for worms and other insects to go fishing, because the insecticides had reduced the worm and other insect population in most of the neighborhood. The neighborhood kids used to come to our lawn to hunt for four leaf clovers because it was one of the few lawns in the neighborhood that had clover.

I feel a lawn should be a garden, not just a lawn.

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Nice post; I absolutely agree. I don't always read the Lawn Care Forum, because I'm not a big lawn person. I basically do nothing to my lawn but keep it mowed. But I have noticed that my neglected lawn often looks better than my neighbor's fussed over, Chem-lawn lawn (he has noticed too and it drives him crazy! :) ).

I love the look in spring of purple violets and yellow dandelions in the lawn (where I got the whole color scheme for my front yard!). But since we mow frequently so the dandelions don't have a chance to go to seed, they never go crazy or take over the lawn.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: Facebook page I manage for them: Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3233
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 8:15 am
Location: Oregon

Yes I think way to many chemicals are being dumped on yards and it all washes into the creeks.
Farm supply stores sell clover seed and you can get it by the pound or in 50 pound bags. I get most of my seed from farm supply stores as they have better pricing for large amounts.

The Helpful Gardener
Posts: 7492
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 9:17 pm
Location: Colchester, CT

We have fourteen dead zones around the US to attest to our overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The fact that lawn as most Americans see it (monocultural bluegrass as much as possible) is anathema not found in Nature should clue us in that we are doing something wrong so I find GH's take on varied plants making a lawn to be closer to the original greensward of Merry Old England, and most like my own...

As we learn more about pesticides I see less and less leeway for their use and find them to be contraindicated for most situations, and mopre and more often easily replced by green techniques or products. These chemicals are not healthy for us, our children or our ecosystems, and we should consistently look for ways to phase them out of our gardens until we are building greenspaces in every sense of the word; a place where all species find equilibrium and harmony... lawn CAN be part of that, just not a BIG part...
Scott Reil

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