Embracing a Not-So Perfect Lawn

Dandelions in grass1Several days ago, I cut the grass for the first time of the season. Mowing the lawn is probably one of my least favorite chores of the warmer months. It’s loud and smelly and, with all of the hills in my yard, it’s not easy to do. I usually come in from the yard afterwards all sweaty and smelling like grass and gasoline. Not at all appealing! Don’t get me wrong! I do like it when the grass is trimmed and things don’t look quite so unruly, but I’m not about to spend any more time on it than I have to!

Society dictates that a beautiful home must have huge expanses of thick, green, well-manicured lawn. Television ads and flyers hung on your door tout the latest fertilizers and herbicides and show pictures of lawns so thick and green that they look unnatural. … Let us treat your lawn! … Kill those dandelions and crabgrass! … Green up your lawn using our latest chemicals! … Everything is so sterile and boring!

Dandelions and clover grow among the grass.

Dandelions and clover grow among the grass.

I personally enjoy the dandelions, violets and clover that mix in with my grass. My neighbors laugh at me because I’ve been known to mow around the occasional daisy or black-eyed Susan that pops up in the lawn. I love the variety and the little pops of color amid all that green. And there are benefits to not being so anal about what your lawn looks like too.

  • It costs less. People spend tons of money every year dumping fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides on their properties so they can have the best lawns in the neighborhood. More money is spent on gasoline and oil for mowers, trimmers and other lawn equipment. Meanwhile, because people tend to apply more than is necessary, all those chemicals are washing off into our streams and watersheds which pollute the water and create algal blooms that are negatively affecting our fish, frogs and other aquatic life.
  • Honeybee collecting pollen from a dandelion.

    Honeybee collecting pollen from a dandelion.

    Those little “weeds” in the lawn attract and support wildlife. Rabbits enjoy chewing on the clover. Bees and other pollinators gather nectar and pollen from the dandelions and other flowers. The insects in turn attract the birds that feed on them. And to me, the wildlife is what really makes a yard interesting. Turf grass alone doesn’t support much wildlife… well, except grubs! They love it!

  • It’s better for our health. Pesticides and herbicides don’t just stay where they’re applied. Insects and other animals ingest the chemically-laden plants. They are in turn eaten by something else. Eventually, it ends up affecting even the animals at the top of the food chain. Heck, even we have been ingesting too many chemicals which has been blamed for causing all kinds of ailments! Not only that, you’re walking through all that stuff and, unless you have a no shoes policy for your home, you’re tracking all those harmful chemicals into your house where your children and pets are playing!
  • It’s less work for you. Yes, you still have to cut it (especially if you live in a subdivision like me), but again, you’re not out there spending extra time spraying or adding fertilizers. You don’t have to water as much either because all those little weeds are not as thirsty as turf grass is. You don’t have to spend all that time on weeding or obsessing whether your lawn is as green as everyone else’s. You can concentrate on spending more time on the things you enjoy, like working on your flower beds, sitting outside reading a book, firing up that grill, or just watching the wildlife that comes to your yard.

Your lawn doesn’t have to be “perfect” in the way that society dictates it should be. You should be able to enjoy your yard the way it was meant to be enjoyed. Embrace the imperfections and, no matter what your lawn looks like, it will be perfect for you!