I don't keep my lawn mowed to neighborhood standards. Nor do I slather it with weed killer. I like to let the clover flowers sun themselves, hospitality for visiting bees. At some point, the birds will tell me that the grass is too high to forage for insects.
I don’t keep my lawn mowed to neighborhood standards. Nor do I slather it with weed killer. I like to let the clover flowers sun themselves, hospitality for visiting bees. At some point, the birds will tell me that the grass is too high to forage for insects.
Then I mow it—for them, not the neighbors.
But first, I like to look over my three-leaf clovers, enjoying the bees who wobble from flower to flower, like drunks barhopping. If this were the 19th century (and I were Emily Dickinson), I would more elegantly describe them as “inebriate.” Anyway, with so many purebred lawns around, I feel like I have taken the higher road in letting weedy nature take its course, freeing the flora for the flying fauna.
Let the seeds fall where they may; let the tendrils play.
That’s not to say I won’t mow down Sweet Gum sprouts when they appear. And though it may seem despicable, I will mow straight lines through the clover, not swerving to avoid the buzzing drunkard that’s sipping one last flower for the road. I may provide for my feathered and airy-winged subjects, but I am Lord of this lawn.
After mowing, I sit and admire the lawn. Smell the grass, note the hardy weeds that have popped back up, the birds going after the insects. Sit for awhile—perhaps read—and imagine that I’ve really accomplished something. In fact, doesn’t my lawn look more interesting than my neighbor’s purebred? Doesn’t it have a greater variety of colors?
With the grass lowered—for the time being—, I see all too clearly the scrubby bushes and trees along the boundaries. I see the low branches that scratched my face and arms while I was mowing. The neglected fringes of the lawn now stand out, needing a trim.
But I am not maintaining a green carpet or garden in my front or backyard! I’m not weeding and hoeing to create an artificial plot for flowers or vegetables that wouldn’t naturally sprout in Oklahoma. Besides, I don’t want to tempt the birds and squirrels to stray from their diet. I’ve seen how each generation seems to need to take one bite of each tomato to discover how bad it tastes. I’ve had enough crops of once-bitten tomatoes to know that. Not good for them and not good for me. Now, I always depend on the produce of friends.
No, what I’m doing is providing a refuge for wildlife and raising what naturally grows on lawn space that is not sprayed or fertilized. The bushes? Look, I’ve got feeders and a bird bath that draw attendance of birds and squirrels from the greater Broadway-Federal-Union-Independence quadrant and beyond.
Small birds attract large hook-billed birds. The little guys need those low hanging branches and the bushes to hide! That scrubby fringe is a life-saving border. I’ve even noticed what seem to be sentinel cardinals, one or two, that will sit on the bushes while their brethren munch sunflower seeds on the ground.
I proudly think, “My Lawn” and “My Birds.” Then they all fly off for no reason I can discern. Flighty. But I still have My Lawn, a somewhat green unevenness fringed by untrimmed outcroppings that remind me of my Sixties hairstyle-- before I owned a lawn.
Last Sunday, I was happy to see that the News-Star’s garden columnist, Becky Emerson Carlberg, inveighed against purebred lawns as unnatural. She went on to ask, “Why are we so obsessed with cutting the grass?” Exactly!
Thank you, Ms. Carlberg, for making my Sloth into a Virtue.