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Thread: Your lawn, leave it or love it?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Your lawn, leave it or love it?

    A facebook friend recently posted a criticism of a person who had a bright green lush lawn as all the surrounding lawns dead thanks to the recent drought/ heat wave we are going through. Further on in the discussion, I agreed with her that watering a lawn in midafternoon as the temperature was the hottest was a waste of water, but questioned if it is wrong to have a green lawn.

    Now I know that there are people who don’t like lawns and think that we should have massive gardens and promote a total elimination of turf. Personally, I want my yard to have the 3 f’s of Flowers, Food, and Fescue. Having said that, my grass looks more like rusted steel wool than the 18th fairway at St. Andrews.

    What are your thoughts? Do you love and baby your lawn or do you leave it to the whims of Mother Nature? Is your activity limited to mowing when the City sends you a nasty-gram or do you have a fertilizer composition that makes Dow Chemical envious? Or, do you take the all-natural approach with compost fertilizer and roaming goats to keep it short?
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  2. #2
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I leave it to Mother Nature. I don't "hate" lawns, but I don't put a special amount of work into it. I don't begrudge others' wish to keep a deep green lawn at all times, but if someone looks down their nose at me for how I maintain my lawn, they'll get a piece of my mind....or give them free reign to maintain my lawn themselves if they so wish....at no charge to me that is.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    I leave it to Mother Nature. I don't "hate" lawns, but I don't put an special amount of work into it. I don't begrudge others' wish to keep a deep green lawn at all times, but if someone looks down their nose at me for how I maintain my lawn, they'll get a piece of my mind....or give them free reign to maintain my lawn themselves if they so wish....at no charge to me that is of course.
    I'm the same way. I'll water my lawn in an attempt to keep it green, but if mother nature has other ideas, I don't stand in her way.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  4. #4
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Same here.

    No watering...no chemicals or fertilizers. All I do is mow it when needed (every week or 2 weeks) with my rechargeable electric mower (which, after gift cards hoarded since last x-mas, only cost me $50 out of pocket).
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  5. #5
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Mow it when I have to. Otherwise it's viewed by me as being primarily space for growing food.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  6. #6
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I grew up in a subdivision that prided itself on well-manicured lawns. The neighbor across the street regualrly had the prized "Garden of the Month" sign in his yard. Our yard, not so much. My mom said she was raising kids not flowers and we were given free rein to use or abuse the yard by playing footbal or doing what kids do. Eventually my mom had a sign of her own made: "Garden of the Weak."

    I am along the same lines as my mom. When my son was little, he loved to blow the dandelion puffs and I let him do it, because it made him happy and the sun rises and sets on that boy. As a result my yard is overrun with dandelions. I am striving to get them under control but it is a battle. And, like my mom, I have a neighbor across the street who keeps a very nice yard. We haven't spoken much since the last time she offered to lend me her lawn mower.

    We are in the midst of a bad fire season. It is dry. My yard is feeling it. There are brown patches that aren't probably coming back this summer. My apple trees aren't going to produce much fruit, despite a lot of watering.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Salmissra's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    I'm the same way. I'll water my lawn in an attempt to keep it green, but if mother nature has other ideas, I don't stand in her way.
    We have automatic sprinklers and mowers on a schedule. If I could get the mowers to also mow the asian jasmine, life would be great on my lawn. I'm even OK with the bare patches under the trees.

    Right now I'm getting estimates on massive yard clean up, including scalping the jasmine. I like having flower beds, but I hate the extra work for non-adaptive plants. So it's high heat, high sun, drought tolerant plants all the way!!
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    I have an HOA that's pretty strict, so I keep the grass cut and automatic sprinklers set precisely on their timers. I have the desert landscpe in front and areas of AstroTurf-like grass that looks real but requires absolutely no maintenance by me!
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  9. #9
    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    Timely article from today's Denver Post:

    Green Valley Ranch homeowner fined $200 for brown grass

    DENVER—A Green Valley Ranch woman is being fined $200 by her homeowner's association for brown spots in her front yard.
    Lori Worthman said she has tried everything to get her grass to grow, but she says one of the worst droughts in Colorado history is making it almost impossible.

    HOA President James Tanner tells KMGH-TV ( http://bit.ly/Ll7jZk) Worthman was warned that she needed to fix the problem last year and members even gave her a nine-month extension.

    He says association members would rather she fix the problem than be forced to pay the fine.

    ———

  10. #10
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I tend to leave my yard to the whims of mother nature. I do fertilize a couple of times a year with compost. However, I have a pretty nice-looking yard as a result of using low-maintenance xerics and having a good understanding of how to keep grass healthy without much supplemental watering. Also, smart placement of trees & large shrubs helps. I have some bermuda & zoysia grass types, and tend to leave them long (around 4" rather than the more typical 2"). It results in my grass staying greener longer while also choking out weeds a bit better. I have drip irrigation in my beds with south/west exposure, which are a mix of xerics and 'productive' garden plants.

    When we eventually have kids, I look forward to them destroying the yard. I'm a firm believer that well-worn grass is the sign of a happy child.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  11. #11
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    In the Pacific NW mother nature did most of the watering for me except for summer. I didn't have to try too hard to have a great looking yard, and I did. I had mostly perennial plants that were well tended and pruned everything as needed. I did water during the summer, generally late in the evening or early in the morning.

    I lived in an HOA in SC, my yard was simple but well maintained courtesy of the HOA provided landscaping. I would add some annual flowers up the walkway to jazz things up a bit.

    I have a patch of asphalt in NJ that won't grow anything
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  12. #12
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    There are some houses in our area that have lawns and gardens that would not be out of place on the cover of a magazine or as the centerpiece of the local home and garden tour. My lawn is not one of them. However, I do water a couple times a week and fertilize a few times a year. I also trim the trees regularly and do what I can to rake up the thatch and debris every few weeks and overseed in the fall.

    When we moved in about four summers ago, the front yard was fine but the backyard was destroyed. There were ugly, thick, very overgrown shrubs on each edge of the lawn that were taking up way too much space, sucking up all the water, and blocking any sun. The trees along the back of the property were also very thick with zero grass below them from the property line to about 15' or 20' in. The previous owners also had two large dogs that seemed to tear up the backyard with reckless abandon. All of this combined to give us a backyard that had nice grass in only a few patches and everything else was either covered in English ivy or just hard, chalky dirt.

    Since we've been there, we've thinned out the trees and taken out the overgrown shrubs completely and overseeded each fall. That has made a huge difference in the quality and quantity of the grass back there. This spring I've begun ripping out most of the ivy (by hand) and reseeding those areas with grass that is compatible with dense shade. I've done about 250 square feet so far and it's actually coming along pretty well, but I still have quite a bit to do.

    I'm not militant about picking up every stray leaf that falls down and don't put down harsh chemicals (the stuff we use is supposedly "organic" and has very little phosphorus content). I work on my yard because it's what I enjoy doing in my free time. Even when I was younger, I used to enjoy gardening and trimming trees and landscaping at my parents' house. This time of year, when it is as hot and dry as it has been here lately, I normally wouldn't even bother watering the grass, but two years ago I had that philosophy and the entire lawn (front and back) was overtaken by crabgrass over a short hot/dry spell. I don't want that to happen again so I work at keeping that out.

    Recently, my wife agreed with my suggestion of putting in a sprinkler system so I think that will by my spring time task next year.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    Drought took care of the lawn.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
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    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
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  14. #14
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Back when I was in charge of lawncare I would weed-b-gone it in the spring and fall, then let it grow. My lawnmower was set for the highest cut and I would cut about every ten days at the peak. I am fortunate enough to live in a place where it usually rains in the summer on a regular basis. If you keep your grass long enough and the weeds out (who suck-up a ton of the dirts moisture) you should have no problems with your lawn.

    At the cabin I cut twice a year.

    Now that I have a condo. I do virtually nothing. Auto sprkinlers, gras gets cut once a week whether it needs it or not, and they spray all sorts of crap on it. Now that I've been there a while I will start going to meetings and bringing up the overmanagement and how it hurts the quality of our retention pond. I am sure I will get the old cranks calling me a hippie though my hair is shorter then thiers, and I am dammed sure I've never seen one of them with a neck tie.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  15. #15
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    We're on the upper edge of the areas most affected by the drought so I've taken a hands-off approach on my lawn. Everyone elses in my neighborhood is crispy brown, so anything else would just look silly. I am however trying to dutifully water my plants and shrubs on a regular basis so they don't die off on me.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Drought last year killed the front yard, back yard has more shade so it lives on, mostly because the wife waters the foundation so we can continue to open doors. Whenever we get around to landscaping the front, it will all be xeriscaped with natives.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  17. #17
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    What are these "lawns" you speak of? I live in the desert southwest...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  18. #18
    Thank goodness the weeds hereabouts are green, because if I had any grasshole neighbors, I'm sure my lawn would be an issue. My wife is a bit of a grasshole, tho', so she's tried something called Weed Feed (she swears it is called Weed & Feed). The weeds sure did seem to thrive in my eye, and she doesn't argue the point so I'm pretty sure she's wrong about the ampersand. Anyway, she hasn't used it since ...

    I don't worship my lawn, but I do despise it getting out of control. Twice, recently, we've planted new grass and I think new grass, or perhaps the variety planted, grows much faster than the rest of my *lawn* (read: equal parts grass and weeds). When we built the garage, we had professional landscapers regrade and reseed the lawn (among other things), and that grass was the thickest, fastest growing grass I've ever seen -- it regularly chokes the mower! With the sewer, water, and gas line replacements this year, the front lawn has alternately been a lawn and excavation site. This grass, while not as thick as the garage grass, was also super fast growing. It was constantly getting to 5 and 6 inches high while the rest of the lawn was in no need of mowing. Mercifully, the summer drought has largely killed the lawn, but I'm left with a brown weedpatch.

    It's funny how many realtors/developers have met with me at the front end of a development of townhomes or much smaller homes that say they are getting into the market because of the large market of empty nesters that don't want to maintain one or two acre lots anymore...
    Je suis Charlie

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    RJ mows the front and back, alternately, every two weeks in summer. He hates it but he does it. I tried fertilizer the first couple years I was here but it didn't make a damn bit of difference. We still have a weird bunch of grasses and a bare patch on the front lawn. Me, never irrigated a lawn. Here, watering 2-3 times a week. I don't see the point. I had a lush lawn down in central FL with no watering. I did fence in part for the kid/dog and weeded that several times a week, but never watered. So I don't see how this "watered" lawn is so sorry.

    And will just say, my mom lived on a small lake near me and it was all overgrown with weeds; only because of a new PUD across the lake where due to homeowners restrictions, all the postage stamp lots had to have perfect lawns, and all the fertilizer of those 50-ft lots went into the lake, and ruined it for everyone else. People who were there for decades got f*cked by HOAs. There is something wrong there.
    Last edited by Zoning Goddess; 16 Jul 2012 at 9:52 PM. Reason: HOAs suck

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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    My lawn is mostly green because weeds and white clover are pretty tough and drought resistant.

    I don't do anything with my lawn except mow it, and I haven't done that recently because it's been so dry. I do mow rather high in the summer to encourage the white clover to reseed, which is not only drought resistant, but only gets so high so if I could get all white clover in my lawn, I wouldn't have to mow at all! That's my aim. Turn whatever is NOT flowers or veggies into white clover.
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

  22. #22
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Bump....


    My neighbor uses a mechanical push mower and mows in a pattern so it looks like the outfield at a baseball park. I have started parallel to the side property lines, but then coming back and doing a 45 pattern to make sure it is all mulched properly.

    When I was growing up, we had a riding lawnmower and I would mow the lawn like a Zamboni cleans the ice.

    When you mow the lawn, what type of mower do you use? Or do you hire it out? Do you have a pattern?
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    Bump....


    My neighbor uses a mechanical push mower and mows in a pattern so it looks like the outfield at a baseball park. I have started parallel to the side property lines, but then coming back and doing a 45 pattern to make sure it is all mulched properly.

    When I was growing up, we had a riding lawnmower and I would mow the lawn like a Zamboni cleans the ice.

    When you mow the lawn, what type of mower do you use? Or do you hire it out? Do you have a pattern?
    We hire out the mowing now and they use a commercial walk-behind and a smaller push mower. They do put that baseball outfield pattern into ours but this year the weather has been so conducive to growing grass that within 48 hours, the grass has grown enough that you don't see the pattern anymore. There is a house a few doors down that has a front yard that is always trimmed much shorter than ours and they put the pattern into theirs as well and it seems to stay noticeable much longer.

    Thursdays is when our lawn is normally cut and I will say that when I get home from work Thursday afternoons, the lawn always looks spectacular. However, by Saturday afternoon, with my daughter playing in it and toys spread out everywhere and "weeds" that she pulls from the gardens for me (aka all the flowers I've planted) scattered everywhere, it's back to looking trashed. Doubly so if we've had a storm come through as there are a few particular trees that like to drop branches with the slightest wind.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  24. #24
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    I have a non-self propelled push mower. I mow in a different pattern every week.

    When I had my old house, I hated mowing.
    At my new house (even with hard to navigate smaller grass areas), I enjoy mowing. Must be due to my being better connected to the yard and WANTING to take pride in it.

    That being said, with an uncharacteristic 3 inches of rain in the last 1.5 days and that fact that I fertilized over the weekend.... I am working on a jungle...
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
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  25. #25
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I have a regular gas push mower. As for pattern, I wonder around until it all looks shorter.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

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