Fall Chores – Picayune Item
Posted at 4:21 p.m. on Friday, November 4, 2022
By Felder Rushing
OWhether you opt for Old Latin autumnus or prefer American slang “to fall,” a common chore, this reflective time of year can lead to how we approach our landscapes.
As we corral falling foliage into compost heaps or carry bags, they can also be a tool to begin a positive overhaul of how your garden looks and functions. It’s simple: create temporary leaf drifts to redesign your lawn, which can impact how you spend the rest of your life and your footprint on the world.
I started on this when a guy asked on the Mississippi Gardening FB page about the pros and cons of modern lawns. Being trained in turf management as an MSU and at the Scotts Lawn Institute, steeped in the history and science of lawn care, I appreciate the values of a well-maintained lawn.
Lawns provide places for outdoor play and socializing, visually open up gardens, confer positive social cues and status, and provide personal feelings of accomplishment even when the actual work is praised. Lawns reduce mud, dust, and stray snakes, emit oxygen while sequestering carbon, absorb precipitation, reduce air pollution, create safety zones along roads, and more.
However, while I understand that no single raindrop is believed to be responsible for the flooding, hard facts show that collectively our beautiful and beneficial personal and public man-made grasslands are extremely negative for the environment. My personal opinion is that a compromise has to be found.
I am not discussing here the practical needs of golf course, roadside, airport, or cemetery caretakers, or the psychology of those who zealously mow and trim to meet the pressures of life. I won’t touch on the very restrictive third-rail social landscape mandates of homeowners associations; I mentally deal with the chaos in the world by simply making my bed every morning.
But our unique obsession with lawns is well documented in countless well-researched studies and books that describe how, over the past four or five generations, we have been taught what to think about it. Between those marketing modern mowing equipment, fertilizers, herbicides and irrigation systems, and the groupthink of civic-minded gardening organizations, we have come to believe that a large, manicured lawn weed-free is a corporate collective mandate and personal responsibility, and that those who stray from it are anti-social.
Yet each square foot represents millions of acres of unnatural monocultures of non-native grasses forced into submission in a climate that naturally supports the trees, shrubs, vines, grasses and other flowering plants that provide shelter. , food, nesting sites and more for the natives. wildlife. Being the lowest level of plant succession, they require regular mowing, which even without counting the thousands of tons of synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, and millions of gallons of clean water, which admittedly doesn’t are not used by all lawn owners, takes a huge toll on resources (machinery, fuel, time and effort) and produces huge amounts of exhaust emissions. noise and discarded equipment.
Am I suggesting that we have no lawn at all? No. But a good compromise would be to reshape and reduce the size; a small ‘carpet’ or lawn walkway or play area, accented with mulch, ground covers, shrubs or groups of trees, can really shine and satisfy all but the most stubborn of personalities with much less maintenance!
And you can play with the idea this month, expanding shaded areas, connecting trees, creating new beds at the side or front of your property. Add better mulch, ground covers, trees or other plants later, but the remaining lawn will instantly look cleaner and more responsive.