Thursday, April 8, 2021

Just dandy - a lawn that's greenish

Feast your eyes. This is what organic lawn maintenance looks like.

Hundreds and hundreds of dandelions (and other weeds for which I don't have names but know I don't want taking over my yard), pulled out by the roots. This is just one hour's work in one afternoon. There have been several afternoons spent before it, and I even did 15 minutes of rapid weeding yesterday morning before logging on to my day job.

These hours of hand-wrenching, back-aching work are what you have to look forward to if you want to maintain your lawn in an organic, earth-friendly, chemical-free way. That is, if you're trying to maintain the typical neighborhood's green-grass lawn on a lot that was not so well-maintained in the years before you owned it. We're nursing our suburban fescue back to life.

This endless toiling is a big reason why most eco-friendly lawn options involve natural landscapes of native plantings. 

Here's an example from a neighbor's house.

It doesn't look like much right now, but then, the Illinois prairies are only just awakening from winter dormancy. In the summer, tall grasses and wildflowers fill out the little homegrown preserve here. It's pretty and requires far less watering than a short-grass lawn.

We're keeping most of our open lawn, though, because we like to get out on it to play yard games. I like to keep our lawn and garden as green as possible, and I don't just mean the color of the grass. We moved our compost bin and its contents with us, when we moved houses last spring, so you better believe I'll be using our compost to fertilize the lawn. Our lawn mower is a good, old-fashioned (but brand new from Home Depot) reel mower, and our weed whacker is battery powered.

But, we've never been 100% green. We balance being green with some convenient shortcuts, because not everyone can be a full-time homesteader. So, in our garage, there's a stinky little bag of organic chicken manure from a local garden center, and there's also a bag of very non-organic "weed and feed" from my grandma's garden supplies. I'll pull as many weeds by hand as I can, and I'll even ignore a few of them, but I might pull out the weed killer spray at some point for a targeted assault. We'll use water collected in our rain barrels as much as possible for watering the grass seed when we sow later this spring, but I know we will sometimes just use the hose straight from the house, because going back and forth with the watering can is a huge time commitment.

All that is ahead of us yet. For now, I'm diligently scouring the yard with the forked precision weeding tool, a.k.a the "pokey dandelion thingy."

I'm letting most of those piles of pulled dandelions dry out, and then I'll toss them into the compost bin. But, yes, we did eat a handful.


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