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mowable meadow reflecting the best of permaculture  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21405
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Years ago I read something that suggested that 90% of pesticide pollution came from lawn management.  It was because of this that I first put my lawn care article on the mighty internet.  My impression is that the article has probably cut pesticide problems to the tune of hundreds, possibly thousands of tons of toxic gick.  And the article still gets heaps of traffic every day.  In fact more people visit that one page every day than all of my permies.com pages and all the rest of the richsoil.com pages combined. 

And today it hit me.

What if the article shifted slightly.  Maybe it could be even more persuasive.  Maybe three times more persuasive?

What if the article goes into a space advocating something for the american homeowner that is more of a meadow-ish lawn rich with mowable flowers and edibles and .... life!  Stuff that does not mix at all with broadleaf herbicides. 

So I started a thread in the lawn care forum
on this.  I figured I would mention it here because most good permies dodge the lawn stuff whenever possible.


 
Susan Monroe
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
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Oh... is there a lawn forum here?  (grin)

Yours is a great idea, but for most communities, it is an uphill battle.  People have tried it in some areas, and their neighbors have gone as far as having the city/county go after them for not maintaining a "proper" lawn.

Stupid!

What could be a good compromise is a SHORT wildflower meadow, if it could be done.  It would be different (difficult for many people), but the Lawn Nazis couldn't use their #1 argument:  fire hazard.

The main trouble with wildflower (or similar) meadow lawns is the need to let them go to seed so they could come back the next year.  I have two patches of blue camas in my field that I'm letting go to seed.  Some of the grasses are over five feet tall now, and they're still green.  They will be dry before the camas pods are dry.

IIRC, Clyde Robin Seeds had a mix that would do this, but I don't have time to check it out.  And maybe it didn't work, as I saw it some years ago, maybe in the catalog.

But if someone could develop a short-growth seed mix, it would be fantastic!

Sue
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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we do have "lawn"..but we also have several acres of meadow..that is brushhogged a couple times a year to keep the fire danger down..i've even moved spare plants out there for some extra color..daylilies, poppies and siberian iris..was noticiing that the sib iris were in bloom the other day..kinda cute that my son is not afraid to brushhog them down out there but wouldnt' think of it in my gardens..of course..

not sure how good it is for them..but it does add some variety..

with the bug level so high this year from the heavy rains in the spring and standing water from snow melt..we can't leave even the wild grasses too high right now..as they breed the critters too fast.

birds are happy !!

I think the bug thing might be why a lot of communities don't like the long meadow grasses..they do tend to be buggy when they are waist high
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21405
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I think this is a progression thing.

If you tell folks that if you do two or three simple things, it will cost much less and you'll have three times less work, then they'll go for it.  And then their lawn looks way better than the neighbors. 

And then you add some crocuses and in the spring they have flowers while everybody else is still looking at winter dormancy. 

That then opens the door to the idea of a mowable meadow.

 
jeremiah bailey
Posts: 343
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I think I'm going to try the crocus thing here. Right now I've got an experimental patch of cowpea and buckwheat that is starting to take root already when I planted only Tuesday. I just did the mow the grass low and broadcast seed technique. Then I raked the seed in. Very simple, very little time consumption. I plan on letting that grow to harvest. I already have several sizable patches of white clover that stay fairly low. Other lawns that have lots of clover have patches of grass that aren't doing well and look bad. I keep my grass looking good and the clover accents it. Its a nice combo and the lawn looks good except for a few bad patches I haven't had time and resources to fix yet. I'll keep posted and hopefully get my pics up. I found the camera cord, but need to covert my pics to a smaller file size. Just haven't had time yet.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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i have always used the minor bulbs in my lawn..muscari, crocus, daffodills, puskinias, etc..and voilets naturalize in my lawn in the spring, there are blackeyed susans and daisies and yarrow that bloom in the fall and of course the dandilion and others..ajuga creeps into it.

 
Leah Sattler
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I picture a lawn that has shaped 'wild' areas with native wild flowers in the non paths. giving just a bit of shape to the 'wild areas' gives a better impression to people than a whole yard that just looks unkempt. maybe something like this. the perimeter light green being a mowed area and the center oval areas being wild flowers (or whatever). homeowners then would also have some ammunition if someone complained. "its just a wild flower bed!" and as long as the homeowner made it a point to keep the mowed areas extra tidy it wouldn't look messy.


 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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one of our neighbors had an antique wagon and surrounded it by a meadow bed in his front yard..it was about 30 x 30 or so and it wasn't mowed..but it became really weedy looking and the wagon fell apart..so he hauled out the wagon and then mowed the spot.

gus syou have to put in the right things to make it RIGHT..and probably is best to mow it at least once or twice a year.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1422
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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People seem to tune out the minute I say that they should just leave the weeds alone.  So far, my best answer to lawn questions is to show them a picture of my yard.

They always comment, even in winter here in SC, how lush and green it is.  After they see the pictures then they start listening. 

It would be even better if I could learn to identify what all of that lush green stuff is - I don't know - I just mow it.

They can't seem to get past the 'lawn' thing.  I am hoping that by showing examples of a yard that sort of fits into the 'pretty' catagory that they can take that first step.  If they will go an inch they might go a mile.  I did.

P.S.  I just sent the Paul lawn care article to several of my coworkers who pool together to buy very expensive pre-emergent herbicide each year.  Maybe they'll bite.
 
Suzy Bean
pollinator
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
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Podcast review of geoff lawton's Urban Permaculture DVD: podcast

Paul talks about the mowable meadow.
 
Jonathan Byron
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Susan Monroe wrote:
...

But if someone could develop a short-growth seed mix, it would be fantastic!



White clover alone is a short growing plant, blooms for a good period, fixes its own nitrogen, and is lush and low-maintenance in many places. It used to be a prominent member of many lawns, then came 2,4-D and a shift to lawns composed only of grasses.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9696
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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One of our best regional seed sources, Native American Seed, sells a short native lawn mix: http://www.seedsource.com/catalog/detail.asp?product_id=2850
 
Jacob Nielson
Posts: 18
Location: Texas - Zone 8
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Good seed resource. Thanks for sharing Ludi.
 
William James
gardener
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Location: Northern Italy
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