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“The best way out is always through.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ajuga Crazy? Don't Mow the Lawn Too Soon!

Well, even though we've only just enjoyed the first day of spring, the sound of lawn mowers has already begun in my neighborhood. Personally I have no idea what the obsession is with mowing lawns (especially in March--when there is snow in the forecast for later this week), but I have some neighbors that apparently think that tall grass is evil and must be mowed at all cost.

But one thing I've noticed over the years is that all sorts of interesting plants grow in most lawns (especially if you don't bomb them with chemicals and if you let the lawns get a bit rangy in spring), including dandelions, violets, grape hyacinth, snowdrops and this lovely blue plant called ajuga (also called bugleweed). Ajuga is actually a very (let me emphasize that, very) invasive plant and at one point a few years ago was taking over my entire front lawn. It has the odd characteristic though of suddenly up and disappearing after several years and that's what it did in my lawn; while I still have some, the lush fields of blue that I was getting (and loving) are gone.

Admittedly having pretty plants like ajuga growing in your lawn can be a pain because they tend to bloom at the same time the lawn is growing at its peak (early spring), so if you want to enjoy the flowers, you have to accept the idea that you'll be mowing much taller grass once the flowers have faded. Also, with invasive plants, if you let them go, they will take off and spread. But for me, having that beautiful carpet of blue in the front lawn, and a carpet of thousands of grape hyacinths in my back lawn (you should see how great the purple looks with the yellow dandelions) is worth the hassle. I complain a lot about mowing the tall after-flowering lawns, but I do get to shoot hundreds of photos.

And that, I guess is my point: if you too have great flowers that bloom in your lawn, why mow them down prematurely just to have short grass? Let's face it, lots of photographers (including me) travel far and wide (Arizona, Texas, California, Nevada) to photograph wildflowers--and then we turn around and mow them in our yards. Don't do it! This year let the grass grow a few weeks before giving it its first haircut and you may be surprised what nice photo subjects you have waiting--right in your own backyard.

By the way, here's a cool book Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden And Your Neighborhood into a Community about turning your yard into a food-producing farm instead of a planet-destroying lawn. Pretty as they can be (especially surrounding formal gardens), lawns poison the planet, waste water and produce nothing! Don't poison your yard--eat it!


Kateri said...

What a beautiful blue carpet. I'm all about encouraging diversity in lawns and can't figure out the attraction to having nothing but grass growing in a yard. How boring!

Jeff Wignall said...

I know--why are people obsessed with green grass that is difficult to maintain, usually has chemicals all over it and is unsafe to walk around on barefoot? Heed the lesson of the bunnies: dandelions for dinner :)


Jade Graham said...

I asked several Master Gardeners and Extension Agents for some ideas and came up with a plan. best electric lawn mower