Today, a lawn is usually part of every landscape. Why is that? You’ve heard the phrase “Every man’s home is his castle”. Well that’s it! That’s where our love affair with the grass lawn started.
We didn’t start out that way in our country. Before the lawnmower was invented in 1870 most people had hard packed dirt around their house or a cottage garden with flowers, herbs and vegetables. If you had grass, it was controlled with the help of livestock. Otherwise, the native grass in America was unsuitable for anything other than farm animals because it was coarse and unattractive, more like a weed or straw.
Today our desire for a green, weed free lawn of fine bladed grass is throwback to the time when only the very rich could afford a green space around their estate or castle. Grass was cut with scythes or the grazing of sheep. Wealthy Americans brought the idea of the lawn back from England. New strains of grass seeds were developed to grow in our environment. With the advent of the lawnmower and the garden hose in we entered the age of lawn care.
Lawn care has become a big business in this country and, along with it, the expense of managing grass. It has been said that if a homeowner added up the cost of original materials and upkeep, in ten years a lawn would be the most expensive way to cover your yard. Consider the costs involved; initial cost of seed and amendments or sod, the original cost of equipment such as lawnmower, edger, weed whip, etc., fertilizer, pest control, water, gas and maintenance for the power equipment, etc. In addition, grass is the most damaging to our environment
So maybe you don’t need so much of it. Three key areas to help you reduce lawn size are landscape design, problem solving plants, and outdoor living spaces. For landscape design you should ask an expert. Most nurseries have designers that will help you for no cost, or, ask you to buy some plants for your design in lieu of a fee. What can you use to eliminate lawn space? Trees and large shrubs, flower beds or herb gardens are some options. You can also increase your patios and walkways for additional outdoor living spaces. Doing some of these changes can also give your house more curb appeal.
As you can imagine, there is an endless list of options to reduce the size of your lawn. In the process, try to pick native plants and local materials for your new yard which will save you time and money. Don’t forget that we have deer here and drought (remember last summer?) so choose plants that will be problem free.
Wouldn’t you rather be doing something fun in the summer heat instead of mowing or watering. Make your yard work for you and not the other way around.
We are having an open house on November 8th. If you have questions on gardening or would like to find out more about becoming a Master Gardner you can visit our web site http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org/contactus.htm.