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31.10.07

A Lawn Is A Four-Letter Word

Crocus bulbs, Lawn Replacement, Urban gardeningI hate my lawn. It has never been much, just your average postage-size ubran lot's attempt at a lawn. The reason I hate it so much is because as a kid I was the one responsible for planting sod every couple of years. We did it every couple of years because my parents never understood the concept of preparing the soil so that a healthy lawn could be established. I was the one who was charged with turning over our heavy clay soil in the spring and then laying down the sod that would look good for a year or two before it became patchy or was overpowered by crabgrass.



Because of my traumatic experience with lawns as a youth I've never liked them. That's not to say I don't like them in parks or I object to you having a lawn. On the contrary, if you want a lawn and your zone can sustain one naturally lay all the sod or sow all the grass seeds that you want. But in my urban garden there isn't room for a lawn and I mean that literally and figuratively.

Over the past two years I've been replacing the grassy area with Crocus corms that are planted in the fall and bloom early in the spring. What I love about Crocus corms besides the wonderful flowers is their grass- like foliage. As an alternative, if you don't want to remove your lawn you can peel back sections of it and plant crocus or under your lawn. Since the leaves of this corm look like grass it blends in well with your lawn and can be mowed. By the time your lawn comes out of dormancy the leaves and flowers of your crocus have died down and you can continue with your normal lawn care regiment. Another thing I've been doing is allowing weeds like Clover to have free reign in my garden because they attract many beneficial insects into my garden.

My hope is that within two years all of the space that was once grass will be covered in bulbs that naturalize or weeds that add to the biodiversity of my garden. What has renewed my commitment to eliminate grass in my garden is the case of Betty Perry. You may remember Betty Perry as the 70 year old woman that ended up bruised and under arrest after neighbors complained about her lawn turning brown. Last night on a news program I heard audio tape from a hotline the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management set up so residents could report neighbors watering their lawns. I know that the drought problem is severe and that water needs to be conserved but listening to those people call in and snitch on their neighbors made me feel ill. There's a break down in the community when people are calling hotlines and reporting that their neighbor's lawn feels wet. The thing about the audio tapes of the water stoolies that I found the most interesting was hearing how many of them seemed to be whispering. Why the hushed tones on the tapes? Could it be because of feelings of guilt or shame?

I'm glad I'm not a lawn kind of guy.
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Back in March I wrote about buying cheap bulbs for the garden at the ALDI grocery chain. On Monday I bought and planted bulbs from the same source but I also found a good price on crocus bulbs at the home improvement store, Menards.

10 comments:

  1. I am not a lawn guy either. The crocus's sound good but I will never replace my lawn as I have over 1/2 an acre. Want to trade lawns.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Curtis,

    No I don't want to trade. :0)

    You are in a pretty cool position if you have that much lawn to work with. You could do all kinds of things that I see on-line and wish I could do. I can't remember if it is a blogger or someone on GardenWeb who is creating a "river" with blue muscari on a big piece of land. I just Googled and if you search for "blue muscari river" you can see some pretty cool pics.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting that I just did a post asking a question about grass and then I come here and read this! LOL!

    I love those drifts of muscari. Too bad they don't last longer! I love blue flowers anyway and to see so many of them at once is breathtaking!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap

    Well put my friend. :0) I aspire to do the same!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Keeping up a lawn seems to be a full-time summer occupation for some people. I was able to eliminate my lawn within three years of living here. It made sense to me because I wanted to have a garden and my place is small. The more important thing for me was not having to water incessantly during the hot, dry summers that we have. Native grasses do fine, but lawn grasses don't without a lot of help from the watering hose.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I agree! My lawn is large (about 1/4 acre), but I won't mow it, and am trying to get my wild sedge to take over. It only gets about 6" tall and arches over, plus it grows nice in my sandy soil, and even looked good through my dry summer this year! I would like to make a point about the muscari-I presume that they are the same as other bulbs, in that the foliage dieback feeds the bulb for next year's bloom. You touched on this in your post, but it would be important not to mow the grass until the muscari have died back, so they return the next year...most times this would work out, but I know sometimes grass gets a jump on things early.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Kylee,

    I'll have to check out your blog and see what your question was about. Now you got me curious.

    Katie,

    I take it you're not a lawner either? LOL.

    Kate,
    Only three years? That's pretty good. I should be done with my "lawn" in about the same time.

    Lisa,
    Good point about the mowing and making sure you wait until the leaves die down completely because the leaves are storing food for the next spring.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sounds like you'll have a beautiful crocus display in the spring. Do you happen to have any pictures from previous springs of what it looks like when they all burst forth?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm not too terribly particular about having a superb stand of grass, however we have some very shady spots where it gets quite discouraged about trying to grow. I'd intended to reseed around the first of September, but was unable to do so. Now I guess I'll have to wait until Spring. Hopefully half the soil doesn't wash away...
    I did plant muscari in the front yard a year ago... should have done more this fall! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. 2greenthumbsup,

    I don't have a pic of all of them I just take macro shots of my garden so people can't see what it looks like. :0) Especially in the spring when the snow melts and it shows all the garbage that managed to hide under the snow. But if you search for "crocus" in the search box on the upper right column you'll find a pic or two. Great name btw.

    Hi Shady,

    I know what you mean I often see those brown rings below trees where grass won't grow. If you ever get tired of fighting it just plant some bulbs there and then fill it out with annuals when the foliage dies down.

    Somebody in my 'hood cut down a tree because it left that bare spot you describe on his lawn.

    ReplyDelete

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