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Volume 17, Issue 6
June 2019


Grow Organically
Lose some lawn!
by Margie Lachman

Using cardboard to lose a lawn. Image from UC Davis article

Did you know that your lawn is a desert? Lawns do not provide anything to support wildlife; not birds, insects, amphibians, etc. Are you wondering what you can do to save many thousands of species from extinction? I find it an overwhelming problem. We humans have already driven a million plants and animals to the verge of extinction. How can we help?

Reduce the size of your lawn or remove it all together—a simple but effective idea. Many of us have dogs, including me, and feel we need grass for them, or maybe for children to have a place to play outdoors.

In our back garden we have a long narrow lawn that I would gladly make smaller but for the cement border my husband had installed decades ago. Since it doesn’t have straight edges but curves it would be next to impossible to change. In the front garden there is a polka-dot of lawn, again surrounded by a cement border which I tried changing but it did not work. I would love to have more room for shrubs and perennials!

But if you are inspired to reduce your lawn, I urge you to do so. One suggestion for reducing lawn size is to create an island in it for planting shrubs, perennials, ground covers, annuals and bulbs. These will give nectar to insects, especially pollinators, and butterflies. Birds are nesting now and feed insects to their babies. I try to plant natives to support wildlife.

One easy way to eliminate patches of lawn is to put down cardboard and cover it with wood chips and garden soil with some mulch. You can plant shallow-rooted things on top in the first year, and by the next year you’ll have nice soil instead of lawn! The cardboard will decompose slowly, preventing grass and weed growth.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency lawns require nine billion gallons of water a day during warm weather, enough in a year to fill the Chesapeake Bay! As our climate becomes warmer each year we will need to conserve water for drinking, bathing, agricultural crops, etc. Equipment used to mow, edge, and blow the grass emit pollution to the air and water.

Mowing the grass no shorter than 3 1/2 inches saves water. Using slower organic fertilizer helps keep turf thick to protect the soil from evaporation in summer. Besides water consumption, chemicals applied to turf grasses run off into our streams, causing extra expense to decontaminate what we need to use to drink, cook, bathe, etc. Wildlife is affected by these chemicals and so are we!

Having a smaller lawn or none at all, and a chemical-free garden, benefits us humans and all the many forms of life that live there. Reducing or eliminating lawns is a practical way for us to help save endangered plants, insects and animals. We deserve a healthy environment for ourselves, our children and grandchildren, our pets and all living things.

[Ed. note: check with your HOA if you have one. Some of them discourage lawn replacement. If yours does, you may want to try to influence your neighbors to adopt more planet-friendly standards.]

Questions? Email me at margierose2@gmail.com or call 503-645-2994.


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Published monthly by Cedar Mill News LLC
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291
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