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lawn vs. permaculture  RSS feed

 
Robert Jordan
Posts: 38
Location: Dublin, Ireland
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Hi Diane and welcome to Permies. Aren't lawns supposed to be anathema for Permies, as they are consumers of energy for little output except for compost heat and exercise ... oh yes, aesthetics. They can look nice. Have you any suggestions for replacing a lawn with something productive? OK it must be said that kids need someplace to play football and to rough and tumble with dad ... or catch with grand-dad and we all appreciate the cool green with a glass of wine as the sun goes down. RC
 
Diane Lewis
Posts: 17
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Hi Julia!
Hi Robert,

Yes, lots of lawn is not only counterproductive, but an outdated aesthetic. But as you point out, it is nice to have some areas for children to play and people to walk. A naturally maintained lawn with grasses well adapted to your region works well for this. Lawn is a permeable surface, and if soil culture is the focus of maintenance, soil bacteria can flourish and the lawn can absorb some water during storms and go dormant during moderate droughts. I think it is much better than hardscape in most applications.
That said, I agree with you that many lawn areas would be better if they were planted with native ground cover, shrubs, or trees. Much more habitat for wildlife, good food for birds, and support for struggling pollinators.
A yard that is diverse and teeming with wildlife is so much more beautiful, too, don't you think?

Diane
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6146
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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My parents house has always had a big lawn that gets mowed 3-5 times a year. Lots of big trees control growth rate and prevent summer scorching. No fertilization or other treatment in 40 years. This sort of lawn doesn't consume much resources. Weeds have never been an issue. It's all green. Various flowers live there.
 
Jackie Neufeld
Posts: 13
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Invasive vine from my neighbour's hanging basket in my lawn. Anything other than hand weeding? I can't keep up with the hand weeding.
 
Robert Jordan
Posts: 38
Location: Dublin, Ireland
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Well, living in Ireland, where we are temperate (climate-wise at least), we have to mow pretty well every week from April to October. That consumes a lot of energy from me and in electricity for the mower.
Having just retired, I'm looking to replace at least some of the grass with vegetables in 2015 and to sneak some herbs in amongst my wife's dahlias and roses.
My best small crop this year was mixed beans: broad, runner and dwarf French beans. We also have had a great year with tomatoes in the south facing porch. So tasty. I love food with food-feet as opposed to food-miles! RC
 
Diane Lewis
Posts: 17
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Hi Jackie,

We had bittersweet in one of our paddocks this year, so I am very sympathetic. We usually would not have mowed that area until September to provide habitat for birds and insects, but we mowed it and that made a big difference. Then we manually removed the ones that survived repeated mowing with this awesome Fiskars weeder http://tghyp.com/?p=947. Other good and easy strategies include boiling water, horticultural vinegar (more concentrated than table vinegar), or a combination of vinegar and clove oil.

Hi Robert,

Beans are so awesome because they actually return nutrition to the soil by fixing nitrogen. Tomatoes require plenty of compost, but they are so worth it!

Diane
 
Jackie Neufeld
Posts: 13
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Thanks Robert, Diane, Dale,

We have already gotten rid of a lot of our lawn to convert our 1/4 acre into edible landscaping. Mowing the lawn is my least favourite work even though we use a push mower. I don't mind dandelion, clover etc, because they are indigenous but the vine that's invading our lawn has a strong odour and it's spreading fast. It's got small round leaves and roots at each leaf.
It looks to me that we'll just have to get rid of more lawn and hand weed.
We use the lawn just to be able to sit outside and haven't had the time or resources yet to make another type of floor.
We're using the Back to Eden method to get rid of our lawn to growing food and some flowers just in case our neighbours start to complain. Esthetics is important to me.
Weed and Feed has agent orange in it. Never will use anything like that.
 
Peter Ingot
Posts: 129
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Lawns can be a good source of compostable/mulchable materials and the soil underneath them generally improves, but I agree that monoculture lawns aren't good (clover or other legumes are always welcome, and I've seen a discussion of edible lawns). Mowing lawns repeatedly does consume energy. I like quite a lot of grass around my home, let it grow as tall as I can without it becoming a nuisance and then scythe it for hay. This generally means cutting fairly small amounts of very good hay when there is still a risk of rain, so tripods and shelters are useful. Larger meadows in zones 3-4 can be scythed much later. I've seen football tournaments taking place in rural settings in meadows after haymaking. My guess is that many of our games and sports which require short turf were once integrated into agriculture in this way.

Lawns can be multipurpose and integrated into farming and gardening. Too many are purely ornamental and some awful people even put grass clippings in the trash!
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6146
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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A bit of lawn near the garden is handy. It gives an open area to set stuff when the garden is too crowded. I process mulches, park the wheelbarrow and the many things that arrive in it, on the lawn.

When I'm in the garden and I need to get rid of stakes or rocks or a stray potato that turns up while planting something else, I don't walk anywhere. I toss all of these things onto the lawn, for later pick up. Root vegetables are piled on the lawn for washing. Baskets of produce are piled on the grass. The lawn chairs are used as mini tables and as drying racks.

There's a little dog at one of the garden's. He is trained to stay on the grass and leave the garden alone. This small patch of grass hosts parties as well. It gets mowed a few times a year. The owners like it tall and scruffy. When it gets cut, I get some mulch.
 
Marianne West
Posts: 131
Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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I am actually trying to grow something like a lawn this winter in what I call "the people area". I have small children over often and find that the mulch I have right now can be tough on their little feet. At the same time, I really don't want to spend water on a lawn. We had one rain so far, but am hoping for a winter with more regular rainfall and planning to throw out massive amounts of wildflower, clover, Plantain, dandelion seeds and see if anything will grow.....
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Diane Lewis
Posts: 17
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Check out Habiturf, bred by the University of Texas http://www.wildflower.org/habiturf/Habiturf%20Brochure%202013.pdf
It might grow well for you and needs very little water once established.
 
Charles Tarnard
Posts: 337
Location: PDX Zone 8b 1/6th acre
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My back yard was replaced with Fleur De Lawn, which is a lawn mixture of grass, clover, yarrow, chamomile, and some other stuff I can't remember. I scythe it occasionally. When there's water it's the greenest lawn around, when there's drought it dries out. It's pretty hardy.

If I swing it right there will be no lawn in my front yard by this spring. It's really better this way.

Lawns are for space, the jungle is where you feed the neighborhood in the most beautiful way possible.
 
Marianne West
Posts: 131
Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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Thank you, Diane. Habiturf looks great!
 
Love Nystam
Posts: 3
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I like to have some lawn around the house to have an area to just hang out, both me and my dog likes lying in the grass basking in the sunlight..
But I believe it has other benefits as well, green manure and also having some wind blowing in the evenings to keep some of the mosquitos away, we have alot of them where I live. And as mentioned before, its nice to have an area where you can just put stuff or set up a temporary project or whatever.. as for maintenance:
If you have more lawn than you can manage with human power, you have to much lawn!
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1286
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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My wife has asked for s clover lawn in the backyard. Seeing as everything else in two yards is mine to grow in, I really want to make this happened for her!
Problem is all the taller plants that flourish there already, like mint and lambsquarters.
Right now its mostly mud, everything has died back to mulch.
Should I till it,to give the clover a good start?
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1121
Location: northern northern california
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i wouldnt, the clover is pretty easy to start.

usually if i want to seed something into a thick "lawn" ish area that may be compacted, etc...i go at it with a rake first and rake it up really good. this leaves little grooves and niches for the new seed. well thats my two cents.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 2331
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
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Jackie Neufeld wrote:Invasive vine from my neighbour's hanging basket in my lawn. Anything other than hand weeding?


Perhaps a change of attitude? I find that if I welcome plants into my garden, then they are not invaders, they are friends, and they become an integral part of the natural world in which I find myself.
 
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