Suggestions, Please: Promoting Green Lawn Care in Your Neighborhood

by Daisy on 04/15/2016

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toxic-lawn-sign-267x300Every spring when I step outside and the stench of my neighbors’ lawn care service chemicals hits me like a bad memory, I have the same impulse: convince everybody to go natural!

This year, with the increased popularity of Nextdoor.com, I was hoping I might have more of an opportunity to reach a few people with my campaign. I should say, to reach more people than those who have been unable to read my mind, since I haven’t done anything at all so far.

A couple of days ago, on Nextdoor, I put up a message asking if there were any folks who wanted to start a dialog about alternatives to conventional lawn treatment.

I got one response.

Not exactly a groundswell.

I’m appealing to you all to make some suggestions. I’ve considered contacting a few of the organic lawn services in the area to see if they would be willing to do a demonstration yard in our neighborhood, with the understanding that I would publicize it throughout the neighborhood.

I prefer the soft sell; the gradual assimilation of new information and new ideas, rather than scare tactics and being judgmental.

I’d like to see people observing other techniques that work, and other affordable solutions.

I’d love to hear some great ideas and recommendations.

Help!

 

 

 



{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

MATTIE April 16, 2016 at 5:36 am

Afraid I don’t have any ideas. I purchased my house because of the lack of green lawn. What grows…grows. I could careless about a perfect green lawn. The little patches I have take the husband about 10 minutes to cut and that is perfect for me.

I think education is your best bet. If folks understood how they are actually poisoning the world for that perfect green lawn, perhaps they would reconsider and try something more natural.

Good luck in your quest dear.

Daisy April 16, 2016 at 5:39 am

Mattie–Thank you. I believe you’re right. I just need to find the means. Baby steps.

Janis Fisher April 16, 2016 at 9:31 am

We live in north Los Angeles County, California, in the high desert. We are putting all those Amazon boxes to good use, breaking them down and using them as a cover for a water-wasting lawn. We have old horse water tanks on top of the cardboard, on bricks, that we are using as vegetable planters filled with bulk potting soil and topped with compost made from our horse, rabbit and poultry manures. They will be growing food for us. Watering will be drip, under shredded wood mulch, which we get for free from the local tree services. The system has worked well in the past and we don’t have to have a ‘lawn’ service any more. Instead, the gardeners are keeping the weeds on the rest of the property whacked and the trees limbed up. Oh, and it is an attractive solution, once the mulch is in place over the cardboard and topping off the planters. Bonus, any rain that falls on the previous lawn seeps through and eventually into the aquifer. The heavy mulch keeps the temperature down and prevents evaporation into the hot atmosphere in our desert summers. We consider this a good solution to a lawn.

Daisy April 16, 2016 at 11:00 am

Janis Fisher–I love your set-up. What great ideas.

Ideally, my neighbors would start converting to food and sustainable practices, but the cult of the green lawn reigns supreme here. So does the use of the lawn care company. I think most people don’t think there is any other way and it will take a while to change attitudes.

Lucy Cleary April 16, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Daisy – over a period of years I’ve lifted turf and paving slabs and planted raised beds and borders in the back garden (another recycler of Amazon boxes here!). The small ‘lawn’ I still have in front of the house is mostly dandelions, daisies and moss, and naturalised crocuses in the spring – I love it and so do the kids. The moss is softer than grass underfoot, grows more slowly and seems better able to cope with dry spells, there are plenty of dandelions for tea and everyone leaves with a daisy chain. Natural is definitely the way to go – prettier, less work and more fun. (Also free – which might be the way to convince your neighbours!)

Daisy April 17, 2016 at 7:02 am

Lucy Cleary–Your garden sounds lovely. I wish you were my neighbor!

Erin April 17, 2016 at 7:22 am

Daisy,
I, too, live in a cult-of-the-green-lawn zone. My neighbor just the other day was pointing out another neighbor who had…gasp…dandelions growing in his lawn. I commented that my lawn was 10 times “worse” as I have almost nothing *but* weeds: dandelions (a must-have for tea and wine!), wild violets (so pretty!), plantain (wouldn’t live without it – great for bug bites and rashes), and creeping Charlie (the only weed I can’t find a good use for, except maybe it has tons of flowers and I see bees all over it? help me out, here).
I, too, despair of anybody in the cult coming to see the light regarding the damage they’re doing to the environment (and their pocketbooks). I’m going to attempt to establish prairie grass and wildflowers, which may be slightly more aesthetically pleasing to them. The City I work for attempted to do the same at a fire station in a tony neighborhood, and so far the experiment has gotten mixed reviews. Most neighbors have welcomed the practice as sustainable and green, a few neighbors complain about the “unsightly weeds all around that fire station why can’t they mow their lawn.” Some people have the ability to think on a broader scale outside their own experience, and some don’t, I guess? The fire station has a sign in the field of prairie grass that states it is a natural prairie habitat that will save water and reduce emissions. I think maybe that has gotten some buy-in from most of the residents around the station, and might be the way to go in our cases?
I appreciate this post, as I feel I’ve found a support group! 🙂

Daisy April 18, 2016 at 3:55 am

Erin–On the topic of Creeping Charlie, I found this: http://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/an-herb-to-know-45.aspx?PageId=1#ArticleContent
From experience, it is extremely hard to eradicate, so I wouldn’t introduce it where it wasn’t already as you’ve discovered, instead find an existing source in someone else’s yard! Since we have it already, might as well make the most of it because it isn’t going anywhere 😛
Sounds like there’s true interest in sustainability in your local government somewhere if the fire station has a program like that. A good example from an authority should go a long way. The sign is a good means of explaining/educating. I hope it catches on.
Thanks for your story. We may not live in the same neighborhood but it’s good to get support from like-minded internet neighbors!

Erin April 23, 2016 at 11:16 am

Wait, wait…update: the same neighbor was watching me flatten out and mix two big piles of compost and dirt I got (for free – yay) and I explained that I was going to try planting the slope of my yard with wildflowers and prairie grass. The same neighbor who had pointed out the dandelions said that he had come to see my point of view on lawns and how a green lawn is pretty but ultimately just a status symbol. There is hope!

Daisy April 23, 2016 at 2:27 pm

Erin–That’s amazing! I’m shocked but happy! I think a lot of people would change their minds if they were shown another way, but it takes people like you to show them.

Becky May 12, 2016 at 7:50 pm

Hi Daisy,
I’m in Mpls- not your neck of the woods, and officially in the city, but we have lawns. And while we still have a few of the chemlawns around it is fewer and fewer each year. I appreciate your gentle approach, but I think probably there are some allies that might be easier to find you don’t even know you have. I’m in the slowly being converted category, but I wasn’t a chemlawn person, I was a bystander. I don’t think anybody wants to talk about chemical vs natural lawn care. Some more people might be willing to get together to work on sharing experience on improving their lawn without chemicals, or making more butterfly and bee friendly space (and oh by the way, avoid the neonicotinoids). The little signs that people get from the neighborhood classes here (I think) are the noticeable counter to the chemlawn signs. The sign says “PESTICIDE FREE: This area is safe for children, pets and other living things.” There’s another that says something like” this is Butterfly and Bee Friendly lawn.”

Anyway. love your blog.

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