An open letter to my obsessive lawn loving friends and family:
I love you all, I really do. But you have to chill the hell out. There is nothing you can do about it and in fact, I’m writing this letter today with the goal of not only talking you off the ledge, but to also tell you why you in fact need to embrace them. “Them” being those delightful little pops of yellow spring flowers known as the dandelion. Please take notice that I used the term “flower” and not “weed”, because that is your first step in coming to terms with your unnecessary lawn stress.
Listen, I’m not here to patronize you, that is not the intention at all. I was once like you, wickedly concerned with the perfect looking lawn. I too shared the weekly dream of a pristine sheet of green with nothing else present but those lawnmower lines. I subscribed to the Scott’s 137 step plan and cheered on the idea of killing everything in the lawn’s path. I cut my lawn diligently each week scooping up all of the clippings along the way because any visible clump represented laziness. I’d too then trim the shit out of the lawn for like and hour or so and then grab my painfully loud blower and blow the loose clippings on the driveway into my neighbor’s lawn. I may have even grunted a bit when it was all done.
I don’t remember specifically when it all changed, but it started when we moved into our new home 12 years ago. I went from a tiny suburban lot to a 2+ acre country lot. At first, I tried to keep up with the lawn in the same manner as at the old homestead, but it became evident early on that it wasn’t going to work, I could never sustain it. From that realization forward, I slowly evolved to who I am today. I educated myself through exhaustive online research. I read all of the opinion pieces on safe and organic “turf management”. And honestly more than anything else, I came to the realization that I cared a hell of a lot more about my garden and my plants than I did about the lawn. I wanted to spend as little time tending to the grass so as not to take away from my garden time.
Having said all that, here are some key tenets I’ve come to live by when it comes to the almighty lawn:
- Stop all fertilization – it is expensive, requires too much effort and if you dig around a bit, you’ll see that it wreaks havoc on our environment.
- Stop with the watering – yes I know things can look bleak in the dead of summer, but just deal with it. You’re probably not watering the right way any way. Water is a precious resource and your lawn will recover in time when it finally rains again.
- Keep the lawn clippings on the lawn – they will break down over time and that is your lawn’s only feeding which replaces the aforementioned fertilization.
- Cut the lawn at its highest setting – this lessens the stress of cutting back those blades so severely each week and helps shield those weeds and weed seeds from seeing the light of day.
And now one last one – Don’t fight the dandelions.
I know it kills your lawn aesthetics dream, but maybe if you knew that it can literally save the bees, you can come to terms with it. Seriously, the dandelion flower is their first source of nectar in spring. For those bees that managed to survive the winter, it is their best chance to make it so don’t you want to be part of rewarding those feisty creatures? You do know if there were no bees, well, we’d be in big trouble?
So learn to embrace the yellow flowers as a rite of spring. Sell yourself on the color they bring to the spring landscape. If that doesn’t work for you, know that the long taproot of the dandelion actually aids in bringing more nutrients to the lawn’s soil by breaking up that soil and making it easier for absorption.
Once you come to terms with the presence of dandelions, imagine all of the newly found time you’ll have now that you’re not trying to pull them one by one or god forbid if you were spraying them (we’ll discuss that a later date).
You can’t tell me that the quick-to-emerge-again dandelion flowers don’t look cool after a recent lawn cut.
It has such a natural spring time look doesn’t it?
And when the dandelions are blooming at their peak, well it looks a hell of a lot better than just that boring green grid so many of you love.
You are most welcome.