Creating A Native Meadow
by Hanna Hayes
When my parents passed away and we were cleaning out their home, there was a cabinet in the garage that should have sported a warning sign about its contents. It was filled with all sorts of chemicals that my dad at one time used on his lawn.
He had a beautiful one—bright green and manicured perfectly. Everyone did. I grew up in one of the most lawn-dense parts of our country, an area that now sadly boasts one of the highest rates of breast cancer. In his later years dad learned that when his granddaughter was going to visit he’d postpone chemicals on the lawn for that week. Sigh. But as he aged and awareness grew about the dangers of these pesticides, like many of us, he stopped using them on his property altogether.
His lawn was a status symbol. Fortunately it’s not a model that will even work here in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, although I’ve seen people try. Just think of the amount of water that was required to grow all that grass! My dad couldn’t have made the leap to give up mowing but he did come to see the importance of giving up pesticides. (More on this will follow during the coming months.)
Garden Club members can commit to engaging in a related task that will also improve our environment. It’s time to think about the “carrying capacity” of your “lawn” and creating “food webs” that certainly don’t exist in a grassy monoculture. Here’s a pleasant video on YouTube that you can watch called "Don't Mow Your Lawn: Turn Your Yard into A Meadow".
I take exception with two things said in this video. One is ordering random seeds from Amazon. So much about that business model is not sustainable and seed source matters. Also why use pesticides around the house? That’s not necessary. While the videographer doesn’t live in our semi-arid climate, there’s much we can appreciate about his transition from lawn to meadow. And how nice to think of a different season on this snowy day.
Even though most of us don’t have lawns, many of us still mow. Lawnmowers are noisy, smelly, time consuming, and polluting. Native meadows nurture all kinds of wildlife encouraging plants and bugs that further our environment. A somewhat silly history of lawns can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcduNr8GY3E