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Posts Tagged ‘landscaping’

Lawns – Less Than Heavenly

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

The below (source unknown) still makes laugh – and sigh. And cry. After all, it was back in 1991 that Michael Pollen, author of Second Nature, declared that lawns are “a symbol of everything that is wrong with our relationship to the land.”

Since then, we’ve realized that back and front yard gardens of vegetables and wild flowers are more both more sustainable and more nourishing than green grass. We’v learned that pesticide companies re-named plants like clover, “weeds” to sell more product and that lawn grass in general is not natural or native in most places.

So, what is our lawn status today? Well, capitalism continues as more green landscape tools, watering systems and businesses emerge, which was a start, but the idea of the “lawn” is still too alive and too well in the U.S.. Despite the fact that we know we kill 7 million birds each year – along with earthworms and other beneficial pests – with pesticides applied to lawns. Despite the fact that as the demand for potable water continues to increase, yet we are using 30% of it to water lawns. Places like Dallas, TX, use 60% – !! And, as landfill space becomes scarce, we now know that 20 – 50 % of that space is filled with yard waste – in plastic bags.

Heard enough?

Enjoy the below and pass it around your neighborhood.


God: Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff? I created a perfect no-maintenance garden plan – plants that grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply. The nectar from those long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and birds. All I see now are these green rectangles.

St. Francis: It’s the “Suburbanite” tribes. They started calling your flowers “weeds” and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass that they go to great lengths to keep green. They begin each spring with fertilizing and poisoning the other plants that show up.

God: Grass? How boring. It’s not colorful, is sensitive to drought and temperatures. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds or bees. Well, the grass does grow fast, that must make these Suburbanites happy.

St. Francis: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it – sometimes twice a week.

God: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

St. Francis: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up, put it in bags and pay to have it taken away.

God: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the Summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. At least that slows the growth and saves them all that work.

St. Francis: Actually, when it rains less, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water the grass so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

God: At least they kept some trees – which provide beauty and shade in Summer, and then provides a natural blanket of fallen leaves in the Fall to keep moisture in the soil and protect the roots. A stroke of genius, if I do say so myself.

St. Francis: You better sit down, Lord. As soon as the leaves Fall, the Suburbanites rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away. Then they go out and buy something they called mulch, which they spread out in place of the leaves.

God: Where do they get this mulch?

St. Francis: They cut down trees and grind them up.

God: I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

St. Catherine: “Dumb and Dumber”, Lord. It’s a story about…

God: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

The Goat Patrol – nature’s sustainable landscape architects

Friday, September 26th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Got ivy, honeysuckle, poisen ivy, kudzu or other invasives taking over your yard? Call Goat Patrol – the fastest, most efficient and most sustainable landscaping team available. This discovery has made me smile all day – sustainable landscaping at it’s best! What I’ve learned so far from The Goat Patrol:

Nature’s landscape architects, goats can clear invasive growth from any area in record time and with skillfull precision. Born to munch, goats graze up to 8 – 12 hours per day, quietly moving around an area to find their favorite edibles. Goats are also non-toxic and won’t threaten the water supply.

Business school graduate, entrepreneur, land and animal lover, Alix Bowman, owns and operates Goat Patrol in NC, which includes a hungry team of superhero ruminants. Alix and her team get the job done without gasoline emissions, noise pollution from machinery or weedwackers, herbicides – or coffee breaks!

Alix and her team have an affordable and enjoyable working system which begins with a free estimate of your landscaping needs. Appropriate for large or small areas, the costs cover 3 simple steps – installation of portable fencing, grazing time and transportation of the herd. Fencing is set up to specification, the goats and supervising goatherd arrive the next day. The herd heads home each night, returning until the job is done.

I’m looking foward to bringing the Goat Patrol to our co-housing community to clean things up soon. Visit to meet the team – a herd of munchers with personality and charm!

“Please Don’t Mow” – Lawn Alternatives

Friday, May 30th, 2008

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 chop  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.

my yard

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