On this earth day, it should be noted that an American tradition is under attack……the front lawn. That’s right, that section of green in front of your home where the only reason you ever go out on it is to mow it. In this new “mowlenium” some homeowners are optioning for something other than green grass. Leading the charge are communities where “global warming effects” have created drought conditions in summer. Dragging hoses around to run the sprinkler, you know the kind with two settings: drip and monsoon, gets old real quick. In addition the water bill is a tough pill to swallow every 3 months.
We can thank the British for this tradition of green front lawns (or as they would say the “pitch”) adopted first by wealthy Americans and then slowly but surely found it’s way into mainstream America. Come to think of it, that’s how Christmas trees and Christmas lights started too from the wealthy to a mainstream tradition. Today it is a suburbia tradition to compete for the nicest lawn on the block……a status symbol.
Unfortunately, many parts of the U.S. do not have the same weather as England. In England as well as areas like Oregon and Seattle, nature acts like a sprinkling system with generally more than sufficient rain, drizzle and moisture.
Fortunately however, you do have options if you don’t want to be the first neighbor on your block to replace the lawn with tomato plants, junipers and groundcover. 1) Consider using some of the new turf seed mixes available today like tall turf type fescues, they’re tough and drought tolerant. 2) Raise the deck on the mower. If you want a thicker, healthier weed free lawn, resist the urge to cut it short, keep the length around 3 inches. 3) Mulch your clippings back into the lawn. Clippings are around 80% water and 20% nutrient rich, the gift that keeps giving. 4) Remember fall is a great time for lawn establishment or rebuilding. Everyone seems to want to do it in spring, but the nicest lawns are those that received attention in September-November. 5) Irrigate in the early morning hours. The wind is generally calm, the sun isn’t up yet (evaporation), and the moisture more efficiently gets to the roots where it’s needed while the foliage can dry off to prevent disease with the rising sun.