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less lawn, more flowers

 
                                        
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Location: Washington DC
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I love this site, lots of good info. Because of the way pesticides and fertilizers that homeowners apply to their lawns wash away into our tributaries and wreak havoc on our rivers and bays, I appreciate any efforts to reeducate the public to more organic means of tending their lawns. Another proposal is to reduce the amount of lawn you have by increasing the size of your perennial beds. Plant native plants like brown eyed susans, coneflower, baptesia, amsonia, etc, and watch while butterflies, birds, and bees start visiting. This not only reduces the amount of lawn to mow and tend but recreates some habitat for beneficial critters, and this is very important now because of how development of land is reducing the amount of natural habitats available to them.

I am in the process of changing my entire lawn to a meadow, which is not the same as letting it do its own thing which ends up creating a haven for invasive weeds. It involves using Round up to kill the lawn, adding some compost/soil right on top without tilling, planting native perennials, shrubs and trees right into the old lawn space and then monitoring it for invasive weeds. Then I can mow once or twice a year to renew the plants and the rest of the time enjoy the butterfly show.

We need to change our perception of what makes our homes beautiful. Huge expanses of prisitne lawn comes at a huge price to the environment.
 
                            
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I agree more flowers. I'm taking a gradual approach at the transformation of lawn to native perennials, grasses, herbs, foods, and medicinals. Instead of Round Up I sheet mulch. I simply save cardboard, newspapers, and paper bags. I use these to cover the lawn. I place compost ontop. The paper keeps the lawn from growing. I then dig through the mulch to plant or seed on top. The lawn actually works to your advantage as it decomposes it acts as an organic fertilizer. The roots of the dead lawn leave behind a beneficial network of interconnected pores in the soil. I have had excellent results.
 
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Rather than cardboard or paper, I like to use baled hay. It comes off in "flakes" about an inch or two thick. Grass cannot grow through it.
 
                    
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Do you mean straw or hay? I've got a bale of straw that I used to protect the flower seeds from birds and also to prevent the soil from drying out too much. I've seen people do this with lawn seed as well, so why doesn't your lawn grow through the hay?
 
paul wheaton
steward
Posts: 32876
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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use hay where you want a little extra nitrogen. Otherwise use straw.

When the hay is packed, the grass cannot penetrate it. If you fluff it up a bit, the grass can get through without a problem.
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