If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I’m not a friend of lawns. Ecologically, they’re disasters. They’re basically monocultures, and nature does not like monocultures, so it takes ridiculous amounts of water and chemicals to maintain a pristine lawn. Lawn care is responsible for a great deal of pollution we see in streams and ponds. I could go on and on . . . (and sometimes do, so people mostly know not to let me get started about lawns).
Yesterday a friend reminded me of a seminal article by Michael Pollan, written before he became the famous nutrition writer. I read it back when it was first published and was deeply influenced by it. Don’t be put off by the fact that he recommends some nonnative shrubs and vines–he was writing a generation ago, when we didn’t know as much about invasives and when few natives were commercially available. The argument is just as valid today as it was in 1989–even more valid, because if anything the climate and energy crises are much worse today than they were then.
If you’re wondering what you might plant instead of a lawn, consider my mini-woodland, planted across the back of our 1/4-acre property in an area that used to be lawn. Here’s what it looks like in May when the dogwood is blooming: