Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lawn, yard, or Better Homes and Gardens....

The photo below was taken about a month after we moved into our home here. It was a snapshot of part of the backyard, which we have about 2 acres out here at the back of the house.
When we were first looking at the place to buy it, we asked the current home owner how long it took him to cut the grass. His reply was - " six or seven hours". My husband and I just looked at each other, but, I know what we were both thinking - and we were. Our thought was, why would you spend all that time and resources cutting grass? Why wouldn't you just let it grow and let Mother Nature do her thing?
He didn't do anything with the property back here except grow a couple of apple trees. So, he choose to spend his retirement cutting the grass. Now in all fairness, he did have a vegetable garden and from what we could tell by the items left behind after they vacated, a chemical laden vegetable garden. Ewww....

After the hubsters and I moved in, we cut the grass over the entire property once. That's all it took for the "meadow" to be born. It will stay a meadow until if and when we decide to use it for other resources, such as growing grains or raising meat animals.

The photo below (click to enlarge) shows the back yard and meadow three years on. We do cut paths through the meadow and keep the grass cut elsewhere out back because we USE it. I also keep the areas around the house cut to keep snakes (ewww, again - I know they are beneficial. It doesn't mean I have to like them) and rodents away from where we and the animals are on a daily basis. It takes me an hour and 45 minutes on a riding mower to do the mowing. Add another 15 minutes to this and it includes trimming around the house and outbuildings with my battery operated weed wacker.

As you can tell by this photo, I'm not too particular what is growing as long as its green. Clover has taken over a good bit of it which the bees love. The rest is grass and what some folks consider weeds. Oh, the horror of it all!

I don't fertilize my yard unless you count the grass clippings which add nitrogen to the soil.

This spot below is about the nicest grass we have. Sheer luck.
This is the way we walk back to the shed, studio, garden, and coop. It is also where my clothesline is. We haven't planted any other trees or bushes because it's the only area we can get a vehicle to the back of the property.

This shot shows most, but not all of the front yard. It's about and acre and a half. This piece of property takes about two hours to cut - mostly because of mowing around trees. This picture makes it look like a pristine lawn, which it isn't. It's just mowed on a weekly basis with the grass clippings left to do their thing. I get my trusty battery operated weed wacker out about once a month to trim around the front walkway, you know, just in case we get, ah, visitors... I jest.
Are you still with me?

Americans are obsessed with their lawns. I am not because I have a yard, not a lawn. I do take pride in my property, however, and keep it nice. I have to use a polluting riding mower to do so. I have to do this also because we have laws in this county that your grass cannot be over 6" in height. If the county receives a complaint, you get fined. Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure this ordinance was set in place for a variety of reasons. I'm hoping that sanitation reasons is why it was first implemented. Property value comes in to play, too, you can bet.

Our county has a "right to farm" law. When you purchase a home here you have to sign a document stating that you understand this. I think it's one of the smartest things they've put into play. For those of you who may not know, the right to farm act basically states you can't live here and complain about the smells and noises associated with those who farm for a living. It came about twenty years ago or so after the housing boom took off in this agricultural county and they started building McMansions. Folks would move to the "country" and then complain that it smelled like manure. Some even went as far as to sue their farming neighbor. Jeez, loosen your pony tail lady - your brain must be hurting. Duh, we are an agricultural county. We have huge dairy farms with cows out here. You know, those black and white things out there on the grass...

Anyway, I digress. What I'm trying to say is, where did we get so off track that just plain ol' grass isn't good enough? Why do we have to have companies come out and spray chemicals to have the greenest grass on the block? And then, goddess forbid, don't let your kids or pets play on it! What ever happened to the plain and common yard?

Don't get me wrong - I think a pretty yard is a pretty yard. I think a cut yard with trees and flowers show pride of ownership. But, what if I choose to let sheep graze in my front yard instead of just cutting all that grass? Is that wrong? Is it any less pretty? Is letting my yard go to being a meadow a sightly menace?

I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

So, is it a lawn, a yard, or a candidate for a spread in Better Homes and Gardens? Well, mine's a yard. I try to be as practical and environmentally aware of how I take care of it as I can. I'm not a purist, though I try to do the best I can. I can walk on it barefoot and my dogs can play on it. My chickens can scratch around on it and their feet won't fall off. The biggest risk in my yard is trying not to step on the honey bees while heading back to the garden. It's a hazard I'll chance.


  1. I never wanted to be a slave to a lawn either. I did enough of that when I was a kid. I have leaves instead of grass. Works for me. Maybe you could get some sheep and move them around on the property and they could mow the grass? I was thinking of doing something like that to get rid of the leaves. Goats?

  2. What a beautiful place you have and I totally agree with you.

  3. You should get the sheep, just so they could do your mowing, and so that you can claim it as pasture, and not lawn, yard, or meadow. It should be okay as part of your right to farm. Get three. They're social animals and odd numbers are better. I mean, they look better.

  4. I totally agree with all your sentiments here Toni. We live in an agricultural part of Suffolk with quite a few pig farms and people have complained about the smell and noise too!! Unbelievable. They just want a sanitised view of the countryside and really belong in the town or the city.
    But, but back to your plot. It's funny how we use different terms. Here in the UK we call even the smallest postage stamp a garden, but in your neck of the woods they are yards. Even your huge space! I think a meadow is a wonderful idea and is something that I have always wanted if I had the acreage, oh and an orchard!
    I garden totally organically too and cannot bear chemicals of any kind.
    Like Callie and Paula I think keeping a few sheep is the perfect way to mow environmentally!
    Your land is really great Toni and I think you and your family are doing a grand job!

    Jeanne x

    PS By the way it must be nice to actually see it again and not through a haze of white!!

  5. I take someome has commented on your yard? I want my yard to look nice. I have planted a few pieces of sod that I got from my parents, but not a yard full. I just take care of the few pieces and hope it spreads the yard. I don't like people driving in my yard. That erks me to no extent! Mike drives back to drop off pellets or wood or whatever. It's only 100 yards! Get the wheel barrow! I don't spend hours upon hours or dollars, but I don't want a nice looking yard!

  6. Thanks as always for your warm comments.
    Just to set the record straight, I was just thinking out loud as to why some folks, especially most Americans are so obsessed with their yards or lawns. No one has complained about our property, at least to us, about the state of it.
    I find it fascinating what different people think about the "green stuff" and what is beautiful or un-sightly to others.
    Just sharing my viewpoint.
    Have a great weekend everyone!