Today I am taking a short break from my blog based fracktivism to write about another way to help make the world a better place.
Now that the snow is finally melting away, people here in suburbia are starting to think about their lawns. Whether it is putting down grass seed or hiring a new batch of lawn guys to mow and blow this year, there is a better way to go about things.
The typical suburban lawn sucks up significant amounts of water. Homeowners spend thousands of dollars paying the “lawn guys” to seed, fertilize, mow and blow their yards. These practices increase the toxic load in their homes which can impact the health of their families, including their pets. Runoff of fertilizers and pesticides impacts nearby streams and rivers.
Air quality is drastically harmed but the use of mowers and leaf blowers that stir up dust, mold and spew large amounts of hydrocarbons. One hour of use creates as much air pollution as a car driven for 100 miles. Here’s the crazy part: in the spring and the summer, there are no leaves to blow!
Web MD reports that “The particulate matter (PM) swept into the air is composed of dust, fecal matter, (yep, critter poo), pesticides, fungi, chemicals, fertilizers, spores, and street dirt which can contain lead and gasoline – among other things. There have even been cases of viral diseases being spread by the use of leaf blowers”
I’ve always said no lawn needs a blow job, no matter what the season! I mow my leaves in the fall.
Make this year the year you start an herbal lawn instead. I stumbled on this strategy completely by accident over a decade ago. I got tired of wasting money on grass seed and moving sprinklers around trying to coax the tender grass seedlings along.
I let it all go. I let the ‘weeds’ grow. And then I became enlightened. I learned that one woman’s weeds are another woman’s herbs.
Here’s a sampling of what thrives in my herbal lawn.
Dandelions- I’ve always loved dandelion flowers and still love to make a wish and blow their parachute like seeds into the air. Dandelion greens are best harvested before the plant flowers, they add some spice and welcome bitterness into any salad.
Ajuga is a plant special to my heart. My mom gave me some from her garden before she died. The ajuga is a member of the mint family, it spreads nicely. Every year, my ajuga and it’s purple flowers pop up in different locations in my lawn. This plant is a reminder that my mom is still with me when I’m outside in the yard. If you mow the flowers, the greenish purple leaves will forgive you and they will likely sprout some more flowers.
White clover is one plant that I sometimes add via seed in the spring. Clover is a nitrogen fixing plant, Mother Nature’s fertilizer. It grows low to the ground, it is a beautiful shade of green and has pretty flowers which the bees love. I have no idea why the grass industry declared war on clover. Perhaps it was so that lawn owners would become overly dependent upon their chemical fertilizers. Fertilizers and pesticides are completely unnecessary when you have an herbal lawn.
Plantain is one of the “weeds”hated by the lawn guys that I’ve allowed to flourish in my herbal lawn. Plantain grows prolifically and has many healing properties
Chickweed is another plant that readily and happily grows in your lawn Like dandelion greens, chickweed can be used in your salad. Once again, this plant has huge health benefits. We shouldn’t be killing it, we should be eating it!
Last but not least in the spirit of a healthier lawn, here’s my advice.
Ditch the lawn guys, get a good lawn mower and DIY instead. You’ll get to spend time in your beautiful yard, getting more familiar with each inch of your land. It is a nice meditative workout to walk back and forth. With these two mowers, you won’t be breathing in any fumes. My two favorites are the Neuton cordless electric mower and the Fiskars reel mower.