Nature Abhors a Monoculture (AKA the %$#! weeds are taking over my grass!)

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Think About This Thursday

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See this beautiful picture over on the left? That is some one’s grass. Not MY grass! My grass is filled with weeds, bare spots, and the assorted dog toy. I have complained mightily about our horrible yard to my husband but since neither one of us is willing to spend large amounts of money on nasty chemicals, fertilizers, or yard services we have grudgingly learned to live with our ugly turf. As my husband is fond of saying “Nature Abhors a Monoculture”. (hey, we’re science geeks, we actually use words like ‘monculture’ in day to day life!)Basically, this means that chaos and weeds are a lawn’s natural state and to fight it is futile. I write this post today as a reminder to myself…the weeds are growing so fast I swear I can SEE it and I am starting to get that tightness in my chest that forces me to go out and spend hours pulling up wild strawberry plants from the grass for hours. So, here are a few random grass, lawn, water, and weed facts for you to Think About This Thursday!

According to the National Wildlife Federation:

  • 30% of water usage on the East Coast goes to lawns, and 60% on the West Coast
  • 18% of municipal solid waste is yard waste
  • The average lawn receives 10 times more pesticides per acre than farmland
  • Over 70 million tons of fertilizers and pesticides are applied to residential lawns and gardens every year
  • Where these pesticides are used, 90% of earth worms are killed.
  • A lawnmower actually emits 10 to 12 times more hydrocarbons into the air than automobiles, a weed eater 21 times more, and a leaf blower 34 times more!

So,  what exactly IS a weed?  According to Wikipedia, a weed is “a plant that is considered by the user of the term to be a nuisance, and normally applied to unwanted plants in human-controlled settings,”. Basically, it is a plant that is growing someplace you don’t want it that annoys you! So, since I have mainly Fescue grass, I consider the Bermuda grass that is invading it a weed? I purposely planted strawberries in my garden last year but continuously yanked out the wild strawberry from my grass because I considered it a weed. Makes no sense, I know!

I found it interesting to read about the impact of weeds in Australia! Did you know that in Australia, weeds are one of the major threats to the natural environment? They are destroying native habitats, threatening native plants and animals and choking our natural systems including rivers and forests. I am sure that the same scenario can be found here in the US and not just on golf courses! However, we have to carefully weigh the risk of damage from those weeds with the risks we take in using pesticides and weed killers to control them.

The healthier we keep our lawns, the less of a chance that weeds will take over (in theory…I am still working on this in my lawn!)  Here are some recommendations for healthier grass. For more info visit Natural Lawn Care.

  1. Improve the soil
  2. Choose a locally adapted grass
  3. Mow often but not too short
  4. Water deeply but not too often
  5. Control thatch buildup
There are a lot of grass alternatives out there and I would seriously like to get rid of it all and just put down fake grass! Then I could have the kids play and the dog chase balls without worry! No mowing, weeding, fertilizers, or watering required! Of course, there is something to be said for the feel of grass under your naked feet! And what would the poor dog do when she had an upset tummy? No more grass to eat and then puke all over my floor? Hmmm, I think astroturf has an awful lot of advantages!

Comments

  1. LOL I like the weeds in my grass. Many of them are quite pretty! Of course all I have is snow right now but in a few more months I'm sure I'll have weeds too!
  2. Great post, Diane!! Tons of great information and things to think about! We have a huge yard and I always love to gaze upon it's green lushness - okay, so that green lushness makes up approximately 30% of our yard and not necessarily in one solid patch, lol. We have several bare patches and some weird looking stuff growing that doesn't match the other grass, as well as a lovely mole issue, which leave beautiful mole mazes around the yard, lol. A well, perhaps this will be a greener, lusher year, lol.
  3. Bargain Mom says
    I will just be happy when the snow melts so I can actually see my grass. I don't remember what it looks like :/
  4. Wakela Runen says
    Great post. I know growing up that my mom used to have a cow about all the weeds. The funny thing was the kind we got (not sure name) flowered. So instead of having a lawn, it looked more like we had a flowering yard. I always thought it was pretty. My mom just panicked because of what the neighbors would think.

    Now that I am older, I live in one of those communities that force everyone to paint their houses the same colors, have a certain amount of trees in their yards, and keep their lawns immaculate. If we have even one weed showing, we get a citation. It's amazing. I wonder what the association would say if I put down astroturf.
  5. Mayra Calvani says
    Your post reminded me that I should be doing something about the grass in our yard. It isn't looking great either--at all!
  6. Excellent post, Diane. Some information didn't surprise me, like lawn mowers being worse than automobiles. I've seen and smelled what those things can put out.

    Our soil is horrible, very rocky, and wet. Our water table is high, so there are spots in our grass that are pretty much all moss.

    Oh well, can't win them all.
  7. Rebecca Camarena says
    I have about 7 different types of grass and assorted weeds. No use trying to make it be all one variety when the neighbor next door has all weeds in their yard. As long as it stays green I'm happy.
  8. I can't believe they waste 60% of water on the west coast. I used to live in Nevada, and the west coast has a water shortage. Now, I love a beautifully-manicured lawn, but I'd rather not live somewhere where their was a drought, either.

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