All Things Gardening forum: Interesting article re:lawns

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Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
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fiwit
Aug 24, 2015 7:02 AM CST
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Lawn/

According to the linked article, satellite observation suggests the USA has 3 times more acres of lawns than of irrigated corn.
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Name: Cheryl
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ShadyGreenThumb
Aug 24, 2015 7:23 AM CST
I have been notified that my Spellchecker was not so smart this morning when I wrote this post. I'm editing now. ..... I haven't quite finished the long article yet but i will. I find it interesting that our water company uses the same technology to find impervious surface areas on each property and charge accordingly for water run off. Thank goodness we have dense trees on our lot making it near impossible for their infared camera to look through. They consider wood deck as impervious when we specifically chose and constructed the decking ourselves in areas because it drains water through the cracks and back into Earth vs concrete, a truly hard, impervious surface. We even laid our flagstone like a floating floor so that it takes the water in instead of allowing for run off. The water company's cameras don't see these construction techniques as beneficial to the Earth it water system, however. And we get charged a little extra fire what it can see through the trees.
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Name: Deb
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Bonehead
Aug 24, 2015 9:11 AM CST
I was surprised at the author's assertion that parts of the Northeast were the only place an uncoddled lawn would survive. I am not sure what type of grass my lawn is - we just started mowing the perimeter of our house as we were building it to keep the weeds down. It was mostly nettles and thistles to begin with, but we now have a pretty dense mix of grass, clover, and dandelion. I don't fertilize or irrigate, no herbicides, and use a mulching mower. It's by no means a manicured golf course look, but suits me. I am almost always barefoot outside. Likewise, our outer fields were pasture for years, but we no longer keep either cows or horses and now just let the pasture grasses grow, mowing 2-3 times per season with a brush hog. That seems to keep the thistles at bay and I really like the meadow look. I've tried introducing wild flower seed, but so far no takers.
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Name: Caroline Scott
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CarolineScott
Aug 24, 2015 9:22 AM CST
And all that lawn in USA and also Canada contibutes to the population problem of the bees and other pollinators. There are lots of alternative lawn seed mixtures which would be better.
Name: Mary
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fiwit
Aug 24, 2015 9:30 AM CST
Bonehead said:I was surprised at the author's assertion that parts of the Northeast were the only place an uncoddled lawn would survive.

Not sure I read the entire article, because I don't remember that bit. I live in the southeast, and my lawn is decidely uncoddled. My zoysia grass is doing quite well, and I don't do anything to it, other than work on reducing its size. When I first moved into this house in fall 2007, my front yard was 50x150ft of nothing but lawn. I've added 10-12 trees to the front yard, with islands between them, numerous raised beds, and a 35x25 (approx) oval-shaped bed, as well. The only time I've watered this year was when my flowers started drooping.

Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
I'm going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I'll do that second week.
My yard marches to the beat of a bohemian drummer...
Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
Gardening dilettante, that's me!
Plays in the sandbox Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Dog Lover Daylilies The WITWIT Badge
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Bluebonnets Birds Region: Georgia Composter Garden Ideas: Master Level
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fiwit
Aug 24, 2015 9:32 AM CST
CarolineScott said:And all that lawn in USA and also Canada contributes to the population problem of the bees and other pollinators. There are lots of alternative lawn seed mixtures which would be better.


and monoculture lawns are a great breeding ground for japanese beetles, or so I've read. I've also read that back in the 50s, people expected to have clover as part of their lawns, but the broadleaf herbicide companies started convincing ppl that clover was bad, because they couldn't keep their herbicides from killing it. So they had to make it undesirable so folks wouldn't mind that their crabgrass killer was also killing their clover.
Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
I'm going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I'll do that second week.
My yard marches to the beat of a bohemian drummer...
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Aug 24, 2015 10:35 AM CST
At the very end of the article, talking about finding/using a control for the study: "The only place I could grow grass in the conterminous U.S. were a few areas in the northeast and the great plains. Everywhere else lawns have to be coddled to keep them growing and to keep weeds and other plants from taking over." But, perhaps the author's definition of lawn is different than mine. I'm content to have a mix of grasses and what some consider weeds. I like the bright spangle of dandelions, the bees love the clover, and I've also added spring crocus and English daisies for more color.



I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
Gardening dilettante, that's me!
Plays in the sandbox Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Dog Lover Daylilies The WITWIT Badge
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Bluebonnets Birds Region: Georgia Composter Garden Ideas: Master Level
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fiwit
Aug 24, 2015 11:12 AM CST
I'm with you in that I would totally disagree with her on that point. Lawns down here may need to be coddled when being established, sure. But I don't do anything to my zoysia except mow it, and it is NOT overtaken by weeds, etc. I think it depends on what grass you choose for your lawn.

I disagree with monoculture lawns in principle, and thought the article was intriguing.
Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
I'm going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I'll do that second week.
My yard marches to the beat of a bohemian drummer...
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Aug 25, 2015 8:35 AM CST
When I lived in central OH, "lawn care" was a common priority, near Scott's HQ, golf courses everywhere. Where I am now, it's extremely unusual to see any lawn being watered, and there are no lawn care services. In neither place is watering necessary to keep grass alive, I've never watered or fertilized in 30 yrs of being responsible for the lawn, wherever it was that I was living. It's hard to imagine that even half (by surface area) of all mowed areas are coddled in any way.

Her findings about the environmental impact of *watered and fertilized* lawns are not at all new. A book I have from the early 90's is all about that. Why anyone would try to grow a lawn where rain water isn't enough is an amazing mystery, IMVHO. They're without anything to do on weekends? "Gosh, I wish there was more yard work that required gas-powered machines to tend..." ??

The assumption that bagging grass is most common or even very common is absurd. That's only common in very limited areas, for very small lawns, and mulching blades have been around for decades. Same for the assumption that most people would use any kind of fertilizer on mowed areas. She completely forgot about or ignored the entire SE part of the country, where most people think in terms of controlling grass, not coddling it so it wastes even more of their time & $ to mow more often, for 8-9 months of the year. Obviously this woman has never taken a long drive across several states in the eastern half of the country, or she would have seen how ridiculous her "findings" are, how vast the uncoddled mowed areas are. Especially since the article said satellite images were insufficient, but used anyway. Sometimes when you read about how dumb smart people can be, (hopefully a correct assumption that you have to be fairly sharp to work for NASA,) it would be funny if it wasn't just so sad. Just the sq footage of mowed areas in the right-of-way along freeways & highways (and between the lanes of divided highways) is mind boggling. The article is 10 yrs old. Wonder what she would say about it now?

Why is NASA involved in anything like this? "Milesi also works almost full time in the ecological forecasting research group at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California." Hopefully this "research" entity is doing something else with tax $ besides just this ridiculousness.

Our lawn has about a dozen diff kinds of grass, and at least 25-40 other kinds of plants. If I could get rid of all of the grasses, I would, and am working on doing just that.
http://garden.org/thread/go/38388/

The book I mentioned above:
Redesigning the American Lawn; A Search for Environmental Harmony

Another good read, which gets more into some of the mass societal brainwashing Deb mentioned:
History of the lawn; A History of an American Obsession.


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