by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC
I was on my bike the other day, enjoying the long-awaited green grass and flowers of Spring. Many people in Carrboro resist the urge to chopÂ and manicure, leaving wild grasses, clover and wildflowers to adorn their yards and provide nourishment for all things that creep, fly and buzz. Yesterday, I saw this sign along one of the public easements, which was in full Spring bloom, asking, “Please do not mow”. I realized they were asking the town to consider the value of the wabi sabi of nature along roadsides instead of mowing it down. I stood looking at the tall grass waving in the breeze and hoped it would work – at least for awhile.
I lived in Phoenix for a short time and admired the ingenuity of the of the homeowners who covered their woud-be lawns with green gravel – a logical solution to living in arid climate never meant to grow green grass. (Unfortunately, much of the Southwest hasn’t figured this out, yet, still using mega-doses of water and fertilizers.) It made me realize that we can quench our desire for order and beauty in many creative ways without messing with nature’s master plan AND without spending endless days applying chemicals, pulling weeds, watering or mowing.
Here’s are some photos from my neighborhood. The first is my backyard, covered with mulch, gravel and a little ground cover. I pull thistle weeds twice/year but otherwise it is maintenance-free. Our only expense was pouring some white gravel in a circle – we think of it as a labryinth. The others belong to neighbors, one who enjoys making rock and wood sculptures and another who lets the wildflowers rule. The possibilities are endlessly artistic, better for the planet, less work and more fun.