Monday, August 31, 2009

Grass is not bad.

I’m not the type of person who suffers fools. Stupidity and I do not get along too well.
Last week on the blog Garden Rant a guest rant was published about the evils of lawns and why the entire public should rip out their lawns and replant it with vegetables.
Link :

Oh dear Heloise Horticultural Helpful Hints Not.

A lawn is a perfectly viable choice as a ground cover, especially when it is maintained with sustainable practices with an eye towards organic fertilization, water conservation and energy efficient mowers and irrigation systems.

In my arid Northern California climate choosing a site specific lawn variety is crucial , if not a matter of law and code compliance.
This requires some research and in-depth calculations, but by choosing a variety of drought tolerant grasses or a mix of drought tolerant grasses and perennials along with an advanced technology irrigation system ( matched precipitation rate rotor heads and an ET timer ) and properly mixed soil amendments, one can achieve a very energy efficient lawn.

There is no reason why you cannot have both, a lawn and a vegetable garden, unless space is a consideration and then you should have the freedom of choice.
There certainly should be no reason why one has to get all militant about it and dictate that armies of volunteer gardeners should march upon private lands and demand that these properties be converted into farms.

Yes, hunger is a problem in this nation but taking over the lawns of churches and private business parks by an army of community gardeners is not the rational way to solve this challenge.
There are far better and more legal ways to achieve a community farm and feed the needy.

Besides providing a nice flat area for a picnic, a game of kickball or an outdoor community gathering place a grassland can also be a viable economically and environmentally sound planting option.

Consider the environmental technology of the grass planted bio swale or the erosion control aspects of a red fescue rough. A crop of tomatoes or swiss chard would not provide the same solutions to these problems that a grass species will.

Knee jerk militant callings for the removal of all lawns in favor of vegetable gardens is just plain stupid.
And I don’t do stupid well.

Front yard vegetable garden coexisting with a small mixed lawn of crabgrass, oxalis, clover, achillea and chamomile
From Potager Gardens

A small compact lawn adjacent to a childrens play yard - Vegetable garden on lower terrace
From Kids Play Space

A ground covering of heathers , ornamental grasses and conifers spill across a two acre hillside bordering the Pacific ocean
From portfolioMay08.jpg

Erosion controlling grasses and a drought tolerant hillside planting
From R E D

Native wild mustard growis in the foreground while native wild grasses grow on the hills beyond.
From Alexander Valley


Tara Dillard said...

I saw the post about replacing lawns with vegetables. Was shocked. And I've had no lawn for over a decade.

Posted a tiny message at Garden Rant and am glad to see you've gone further.

Great post.

Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Susan aka Miss R said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you--maybe your voice will be heard louder than mine. As long as there are bare feet and children playing there will be a need for lawn--some lawn, responsibly grown is a good thing.

Kerry said...

I also saw the posting on garden rant and to be honest, with postings/articles such as these for me it's a case of - you lost me at 'the sky is falling'.

Such ridiculous, militant rants are not really even worth reading, except for perhaps comedic purposes or a - what not to do if you want people to listen to your cause.

Not everybody is going to be responsible in their lawn choices, I can see where he/she is coming from, but it got lost in translation.

How It Grows said...

Great shots! I don't think anyone would be complaining about lawns if they actually looked like these.

Delphine said...

What is the musa near the playground ? it is fantastic.

Unknown said...

Nuance would help, wouldn't it? Is all grass bad? Including ornamental ones? Even in moderation?

I have grama grass in the front yard--pretty xeric, needs little fertilizer--because it seems relatively well suited to my SoCal environment. Is that a deadly eco sin? Are lawn nazis driving past my place gritting their teeth at my flat green front yard, imagining that it must take 3 inches of water a week, when in fact it gets maybe half an inch? I admit, it COULD be more xeric, but if we're going for ultimate waterlessness, then let's all praise parking lots--halleluja!

Once, on a vacation, I remember wandering through a park (Kew Gardens? It was a long time ago, but it might have been) and suddenly realizing THERE WERE NO SPRINKLERS! For a SoCal girl, this was a big deal- -yes, the lawn there was expected to live on water that falls from the sky. So, is that kind of lawn bad, too?

Terri said...

I have given up reading gardenrant - it is so extreme. I have found that when I tried to be a voice of reason I wasn't heard. It just brings me down to see gardening so politicized. Gardening is for everyone regardless of your political beliefs. Gardening doesn't have to be politically correct- it should be "irreverant"!

It also should be fun and positive- so I decided to eliminate reading the negative stuff.

Anonymous said...

A minor quibble - in your last picture neither the mustard nor the grasses on the hill are natives. They are both european immigrants that have naturalized.