We don’t talk much about turf grass and lawn issues here at Organic Mechanics. One major reason why is because we figure if you have space for a lawn, you have room to grow fruits and vegetables for yourself and/or food for pollinators. Yes, even in your front yard. (Check with your homeowners association about possible restrictions, and then choose to confront them on that issue. If you happen to be dealing with a restrictive HOA, you may find THIS ARTICLE helpful. )
Considering it’s No-Mow May, we thought talking about lawns this time around might actually be a great idea. Or, we should say, let’s talk about cutting back on your yard’s amount of lawn.
What is No-Mow May?
Great question! No-Mow May is a commitment to leaving your lawn uncut during May. Just let it grow alllllll month long. The intention is to let “weed” flowers come into bloom so they can provide food for bees and other pollinators during a vital time of the year.
Like anything, there are some good and some not-so-good results of this commitment. The good? More food for pollinators, less time mowing (and more time gardening!), less money spent on commercialized lawn products and mower fuel, to name a few.
The bad? Less mowing means more chances for tick populations to boom, never a good thing. You’ll also possibly help spread weed seeds, causing ire through your neighborhood. Have you considered the physical damage to the grass itself that could result once you start mowing again? And lastly, in many suburban yards those “weed flowers” are dandelions, which, it turns out, while not perfect sources of nutrition, are an important part of an early spring diet for bees.
Lawn Options In Between
With many things in life, there’s more than just black or white. You have a range of options in between. Same for your lawn.
Our friend, The Impatient Gardener Erin Schanan, suggested something in her POST about how to tweek one No-Mow May element. Rather than not mowing the lawn for a month, take a patch of it and dedicate that space to a native wildflower garden for the whole season. HERE’S some information about how to get started on a native plant landscaping project.
Another option that lets you get creative is mowing portions of your lawn and allowing parts of it grow. Leave designs—circles, lines, waves. You’re still allowing weeds to flower for pollinators, but not enough to irritate your neighbors. Plus, the designs will clue them into the fact that you’re being intentional and not just a lazy mower.
Consider transitioning your conventional grass lawn into an eco-friendly lawn. One of our favorite purveyors of eco-alternatives is PT Lawn Seed in Portland, Oregon. They offer solutions for eco-lawns, meadows, pollinators and wildlife habitats. And if you’re a dog parent, try their Dog Park Eco-Lawn Mix with salt-tolerant Microclover.
Who said lawns had to be fescues and other grasses, anyway? We have so many options of low-growing plants that can serve to cover the ground between the road and home or porch and garden. A new book on the topic, Groundcover Revolution by Kathy Jentz, shares more than 40 different plants that can serve as turf alternatives including creeping thyme, mosses, groundcover roses, lamium … so many! And many of these choices happen to be pollinator-friendly, too.
And lastly, you may choose to replace your lawn completely and transform the space into a native plant paradise. Great option! In fact, that topic is on tap for our June blog post when we celebrate Pollinator Month. If you absolutely cannot wait or you’d like to do some reading prior to that post, please head over to Izel Native Plants to dive into the planting possibilities.
Now’s the Time for Nutrition
Whether you have a full-on turf lawn, an eco-friendly alternative or patches of native plantings, now is a great time to boost soil organic matter. Topdress your planting areas, lawn and gardens with our Planting Mix Compost Blend to add organic matter to the soil. The good stuff in it will trickle down into the root zone to help revitalize soil structure and soil microbes. Head over to www.organicmechanicsoil.com to either place your order or find a retailer near you.
We love the fact that the American lawn is breaking out of its homogenous and monotonous tone. Whichever way to choose to plant your property, just be sure it represents your values as a land steward.