Tuesday, May 5, 2015

To Lawn or Not to Lawn...That is Today's Question

Before reading this, you may want to check out the posts leading up to this finale of our Earth Week series...

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

It's been portrayed as our patriotic duty. Much like Liberty Gardens or food rationing in World War II, we Californians are being told lawns are passe and we need to let them die to be good water users.

Funny thing is, we've been conserving water for years and still use a lot less than people around us. Now, partly because they couldn't be bothered to cut back, we have to cut even deeper and all eyes are on that semi-green patch in front of the house.

Part of me says, fine. Let it go.  You won't have to mow it anymore.  The other part of me says it'll be dusty, ugly, and the grass has other benefits besides looking nice and creating a soft place to step.

So what are the benefits of a lawn?  It creates habitat for bugs which feed the birds. It filters water going back to the aquifer. It keeps the dust down. It creates oxygen. It has a cooling effect on the air. It improves the value of a property.

What are the drawbacks? It takes water. In our case, about 10% of our monthly water. You have to mow it regularly. You have to do other maintenance such as feeding and de-thatching.

Now, looking at the pros and cons, what do I do?  

When a lawn goes dormant, such as in the cold of winter back east or the scorching heat of summer out here in the west, it doesn't really die and will sprout readily when fall rains come again.

I've cut back to where I still comfortably land in the water use guidelines and regulations to our state so I think I will continue until the lawn browns on its own when the summer heat gets too much for it. At that point, I will cut it off and wait for a wetter winter and fall to see how it comes back.

Sure beat mowing it every weekend this summer.

I hope you've enjoyed our Earth Week series and that it's helped you to be water-wise in your own gardening. Next time, it's back to our little patch of urban garden, our follies, and triumphs.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

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