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Lawns are an ecological disaster

Unread postPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2018, 11:04:16
by dohboi
https://earther.com/lawns-are-an-ecolog ... r_facebook

Neil Tyson often conjectures that maybe aliens have concluded humans aren’t intelligent enough to contact. He’s probably referring to our capacity for war, but lawns may display our talent for fruitless carnage even better.

Americans devote 70 hours, annually, to pushing petrol-powered spinning death blades over aggressively pointless green carpets to meet an embarrassingly destructive beauty standard based on specious homogeneity. We marvel at how verdant we manage to make our overwatered, chemical-soaked, ecologically-sterile backyards. That’s just biblically, nay, God-of-War-ishly violent.

To understand the sheer inanity of devoting 40 million acres, nearly half as much land as we set aside for our biggest crops, to an inedible carpet, we need to back up—beyond the modern lawn’s origins with a real estate family peddling the “American Dream” as Whites-only cookie-cutter suburbs—to the evolution of grass.



Sorry, can't post more now...gotta go mow the lawn!! :-D :-D

Re: Lawns are an ecological disaster

Unread postPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2018, 11:10:50
by dohboi
More here:

http://freakonomics.com/podcast/how-stu ... broadcast/

How Stupid Is Our Obsession With Lawns?

Re: Lawns are an ecological disaster

Unread postPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2018, 11:39:45
by Outcast_Searcher
(From the Freakonomics piece above):

STEINBERG: Overtreatment is the single biggest problem that we have here in the United States with respect to lawn care. Right away, scale back on the chemical applications. You can get away with three applications of fertilizer per season. People also need to actually learn a little bit about the ecology of their yard. To do it right, you should get a soil test. Not a big deal. Leave the clippings on the lawn, for God’s sakes. Don’t put them out on the curb because the clippings break down and they return nutrients to the soil. I would argue, consider stopping the irrigation. Brown’s not so bad.

My dad and I planted Zoysia plugs in my front yard when I was a kid. The Zoysia is still doing well, although over the years, invaders like Bermuda grass, some dandelions and clover, etc. have come in.

All I care personally is that it's not mud, and that the neighbors and police don't bother me over it.

So I do one weed and feed a year in April (early to middle Spring here), and that's it (mainly to control the dandelions. The grass stays nice and thick. It grows slowly. If it gets dry or winter it turns brown, but nothing kills it.

Occasionally we get a long drought here (like several months) that can actually damage foundations due to ground recession. If we get into one of those on the odd occasion, I'll water a little right around the house to prevent foundation damage. But that's it.

I don't care what the back yard looks like, as long as it isn't mud. Too much shade for the Zoysia when I was a kid, so it's a mix of all kinds of stuff. Kind of looks like a field, with lots of violets, etc.

I don't get the obsession with lawns. That was my father's generation, it seems to me. Is it a status thing?

If there were a practical, cheap, hardy grass that truly repelled invaders, stayed healthy, never needed mowing, etc., I'd be all for it. Basically no maintenance. But doing a little reading, there are issues like such grass tends to attract lots of pests like ticks.

Making it all asphalt or something is worse. (Runoff, less oxygen produced, etc.)

Re: Lawns are an ecological disaster

Unread postPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2018, 11:41:51
by dissident
You are forgetting the by-laws that force home owners to engage in this BS activity. I personally hate the sound of lawnmowers and ask the question why no noise regulation is applied to these polluting nuisances. Cars with much larger engines are quieter than lawnmowers. But for some reason no by-law to force a muffler on every unit. It is now possible to buy lithium battery mowers that are not too bad but there gasoline mowers still dominate.

If I had the freedom of choice (which I do not), I would let my lawn find its own natural equilibrium. Initially there would be tall grass but eventually other "weeds" (not dandelions) would take over. It would turn into a sort of wild flower garden.

Re: Lawns are an ecological disaster

Unread postPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2018, 11:49:21
by Outcast_Searcher
I did a little reading, and one problem with "no-grow" grass is you get pests like ticks. So then you have to treat for that. (No, getting eaten alive by pests which might carry diseases is NOT acceptable, IMO. You can't keep kids off the lawn. Legally you can't keep kids off the sidewalk, and with schools nearby a LOT of kids walk by 9+ months a year.)

I think the cheapskate solution I've stumbled into with cheap, hardy, slow growing grass and mostly leaving it alone might be close to optimal, considering the "planning" was mostly laziness, dumb luck, and a desire to minimize fooling with the yard. :idea:

As batteries improve, I'm hoping an electric mower (battery, not corded) might be a truly viable alternative to the gas mower at a similar price in 5 years or so. (Good ones are quite expensive now). As it is, I only use about 3 gallons a gas a year or so mowing, so call it 2% of the gasoline I burn a year.

Re: Lawns are an ecological disaster

Unread postPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2018, 12:03:47
by Outcast_Searcher
dissident wrote:You are forgetting the by-laws that force home owners to engage in this BS activity.

You got that right. The one thing I vowed not to do was move into a newer neighborhood likely to have such an entity (i.e. "neighborhood association"). Hopefully the laws never change to allow such entities to infest older neighborhoods.

Re: Lawns are an ecological disaster

Unread postPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2018, 12:45:01
by KaiserJeep
I have been using a Black&Decker corded electric motor since 1981. In fact I wore one out and bought a second one. It hangs on the wall of the garage when not in use, never fails to start, the only maintenance is sharpening the blade twice a season, and replacing the blade about once every 10-12 years.

Re: Lawns are an ecological disaster

Unread postPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2018, 12:55:42
by Outcast_Searcher
KaiserJeep wrote:I have been using a Black&Decker corded electric motor since 1981. In fact I wore one out and bought a second one. It hangs on the wall of the garage when not in use, never fails to start, the only maintenance is sharpening the blade twice a season, and replacing the blade about once every 10-12 years.

Reasonable power? How much hassle is dealing with the cord?

I've seen those and they were nice and quiet, but as much hassle as fooling with the cord is to just cut bushes, I just sort of assumed that the cord hassle would be ridiculous for a moderate sized yard with normal obstacles.

If I'm wrong, I'll take a closer look next time.

Re: Lawns are an ecological disaster

Unread postPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2018, 13:53:10
by Ibon
pstarr wrote:
You should get a goat. Much more eco-logical


Yes and you can feed the goat poop to Dohboi who needs that Vitamin B12.

Sorry Dohboi, I could not resist :)

Re: Lawns are an ecological disaster

Unread postPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2018, 13:59:52
by Outcast_Searcher
pstarr wrote:Oh me oh my :( Such inconvenience!

You should get a goat. Much more eco-logical

Of course. No one but you should have an opinion. :roll:

In the real world, goats don't make good lawn mowers, though they do like to eat vegetation. In my experience, when people in suburbia have a goat:

1). They prefer many shrubs over the grass. To the extent if you're available (as a neighbor in my case), they'll gnaw on your hand if you're not hand feeding them shrubbery, while completely ignoring all the nice grass around them.

2). The folks with the goat still need to mow their lawn.

Goats poop and have a CO2 footprint. But thanks for playing.

Re: Lawns are an ecological disaster

Unread postPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2018, 17:33:49
by Newfie
My lawn


712259BF-126E-49ED-8F98-0181BDEBEF02.jpeg

Re: Lawns are an ecological disaster

Unread postPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2018, 17:44:49
by Ibon
My front Yard

Image

Re: Lawns are an ecological disaster

Unread postPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2018, 21:39:38
by dohboi
Thanks for the thoughtful discussion, folks, and for the pictures especially!

And yes, Ibon, goat poop is indeed my main source of dietary B12!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

For the record, I succeeded some years ago in turning my entire yard over to native flowers and grasses. There are now ticks in the city, but they are there whether grass and plants are short or long. You need to protect yourself from mosquitoes here, anyway, so a coupe squirts of bug spray is pretty much part of the lifestyle here for many.

I do now lease a lot from the city about half of which is still lawn, so I'm back to mowing again a bit, but it has now gotten so long that I will need to sycthe it...but first I have to get out my grim reaper outfit! :)