Lawns mean many things besides an even green space not inflicted with other plants. For some it is a place for the kids to play out of the mud, which requires a tough grass that is well fed and watered without spending any more money than possible.  To the “purist” it is a carpet of even color, and height, to be watched over and protected from traffic, bugs and diseases with a willingness to pay what ever it takes to get the result. These two extremes probably live next door to each other.  Now think of the dilemma the turf grass specialist has who wants both to be happy.

          Think of the grass itself and what other duties it has!!! In my yard when a bare space appears, grass is as likely as anything to fill in the space, so it adapts and absorbs carbon dioxide, sulphur oxide, and changes them to oxygen. My dogs never sit on the sidewalk.  They head for the 30 degree F. cooler grass to stretch out where grass is breathing out moisture and shading the soil.  When the noisy cars go by and the kids laugh and shout, it is the grass, trees, and shrubs that absorb that noise.

          When you move into a new house that hasn’t been sodded and it rains, the new carpets have to be protected from mud. But if the grass is there, it will do much of the work. Houses are built high to keep water from running into the basement. Again it is the grass that keeps the mud from running down to the curb and into the storm sewers-a first rate janitor.  What happens on a dry and windy day? The grass catches many of the particles that are later rained into their roots.

          To me a lawn is a circus, a supporter of wild life. Have you ever watched Robins running short steps and cocking their heads to locate breakfast?  Suddenly they stop and drill a short distance and then you see them brace back to pull that worm loose for their kids.  I love to have them follow me if I am digging and the worms are loose and easy to pull up.  Then there are tiny blue butterflies, less than an inch across, that flits across that green, and lays their eggs. Each species of butterfly needs a specific food plant for their next generation.  It is not just butterfly weed for the Monarchs. 

          Some summers flocks of Blackbirds or Grackles drop down and start drilling holes and I think, “Oh, oh, I have grubs.  I hope they find them all.”  Another thing I do is plant White Clover in the lawn as I have rabbits. Clover is one of their favorite foods.  I think it takes at least some of the chewing off my other plants. Lilies and a few others have a chicken wire fence around them as I don’t want to take a chance. Those baby bunnies that look about 4 to 5 inches long are almost lost in that tall grass.  I am not quite as fond of their bigger parents.

          Since my back deserted me I can’t mow any more, but my garden helper keeps the mower up at its tallest grass length and it stays that way all during the growing season. Have you ever watched a fuzzy white, 20 pound Bischon dog (“Snoopy”) take a nap in the sun in the spring? He finds a nice thick spot and stretches out as long as possible.  Not far off is “Pepper”, a plump 60 pound Keeshond dog who does the same thing. After it warms up, they retreat to the shade under a Mock Orange shrub in their pen. They dig a fresh hole down to damp dirt for their nap.

          Another creature influencing the lawn is the squirrel. Here in Lincoln we primarily have Fox Squirrels who hoard food by burying it very shallow in the lawn.  I think they forget where their treasure is a good part of the time, considering how many little Oak Trees, Sunflowers, and Corn plants that arrive.  The lawn mower easily takes care of all of these.  By looking out the dining room window, I can watch them playing games out there or busily digging. I consider it another form of aeration. 

          Environmentalists think lawns use too much water, too many chemicals, and the machines make too much noise. They argue for ground covers. They are probably right, but how many kids would enjoy playing in an ivy patch? And what would happen to circus I enjoy watching?

          One report I read said an average lawn can produce enough oxygen for an average family. My bare feet loves to walk in that grass that is catching all that rain and sending it back down to prevent those floods we get from the run off from cement.  I like to put the ground covers where the grass doesn’t do so well such as shade, slopes that are difficult to mow, and to put buffalo grass where it is hard to water.  Flowers are my favorite of course but they don’t last very long. Green is forever!!!

Copyright 2009


wood ashes FOR A flower or vegetable garden ?



          The newspapers and magazines have recently published articles about adding wood ashes to flower and vegetable gardens. Wood ash has many micronutrients that may be good for your flower or vegetable garden. However, wood ash contains high amounts of potassium (K) which is usually sufficient to high in most Nebraska soils. Excess potassium (K) may cause deficiencies in magnesium (Mg). Wood ash is also rather alkaline, and contains calcium (Ca) and phosphorous (P). Raising the pH can result in poor plant intake of some micronutrients especially iron (Fe) thus causing iron chlorosis. Small amounts (no more than 1 inch per year) tilled in will not hurt, but do not add significant amounts without having a soil test. Make sure the wood ash is worked into the soil.