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 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.