The word lawn comes from the Old English for an “open space." Both European and American aristocracy had estates with lawns, but working class people used their land to grow food.
A big change came for the American “lawnscape” in the 1950s in response to the trauma of WWII. In new, orderly housing developments such as Levittown, the first neighborhood lawn standards were adopted. Military uniformity prevailed with ready access to cheap, war-surplus chemicals that had been rebranded as lawn fertilizers and pesticides. Now a $60 billion per year industry, lawn grass is the cheapest landscape to plant and the most expensive to maintain.
In order to thrive, American lawns consume 20 trillion gallons of water, 90 million pounds of fertilizer, 78 million pounds of pesticides and 600 million gallons of fossil fuels per year. We now know so much more about how dangerous and unnecessary these chemicals are, and how many resources are drained maintaining on our yards.
The next generation of lawns will be less toxic and more environmentally friendly: smaller (think area rug instead of wall-to-wall), more biodiverse and chemical free.
Clover says PAWS before you reach for poisons
Hi friends! Tick season is surging and it's easy to want to reach for chemical solutions to keep your pets safe. But owners beware! Read labels before you put anything on your furry friends. Would you put it on yourself or your kids? Many tick collars contain Imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid, which is a family of chemicals that have been blamed for bee colony collapse and are banned in Europe.
My current favorite tick-repelling treatment is PetzLife Herbal Defense, a simple powder that I eat 5 days a month with my food. My collar, (which is the only tick collar I don't loathe) is made by Holistic Family and Pets. These solutions aren't perfect, but I have very few ticks on me. Fortunately, my mom checks me thoroughly every night which is the best way to be sure I am safe.
- Clover von Gal
How you can help save these species, and your own.
Here's the real buzz, we need native bees in order to survive as a species.
There are 4,000 native bee species in the United States and they are responsible for 80% of the pollination of flowering plants and for 75% of fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in this country. Here's more buzz, most are stingless and no one has ever had an allergic reaction to a native bee sting.
What can YOU do to help save native bees?
- Do not use chemicals in your yard and garden.
- Plant native flowers that bloom early in the spring like bloodroot, wild geranium, shadbush and spicebush when bees are foraging for nectar. Dandelions are another favorite of native, pollinating bees.
- Leave your biomass: turn a fallen tree into a log wall. Leave hollow reeds in an unused corner of the yard. These make great nesting spots for native bees.
- Do not buy plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids.
- Ask your local garden supply stores to stop stocking products that contain them.
The Living Dead
If dead standing timber it isn't going to fall on your house or car, leave it. In a state of decay, the tree is still a great home for the living, providing shelter to a multitude of wildlife from microbes and fungus to birds of prey. As it slowly disintegrates, it will feed the soil beneath.
Eventually the old tree will just fall over, continue to rot and provide habitat for ground-dwelling creatures. Remember, encouraging biodiversity is part of what makes a PRFCT place: each inhabitant has a role in a nature-based system. Removing biomass from your property is removing the food that your landscape has provided for itself. (And it's better than anything you can buy in the store!)
Tick hysteria has begun and we hear you loud and clear, but there are some things to consider before spraying your lawn and landscape.
Ticks are HARD to kill. It's far more likely that your spraying will decimate populations of beneficial insects while the ticks continue to thrive.
Synthetic tick sprays are toxic and create a false sense of security. They kill pollinators (butterflies!), they do not kill all the ticks, and new ticks wander right back in soon after the spray is applied.
Spraying your property will also give you a false sense of security and could lead to less diligence when it comes to the things that really do prevent tick-borne disease: applying repellent, checking yourself, removing clothing promptly and showering shortly after spending time outdoors.
The best way to protect from ticks is to spray yourself. Ticks hate cedar, so try to find a product that uses cedar oil.
Ticks also like moisture so if you wait to irrigate and water seldom, the better off you will be. Established shrubs and trees (places ticks love to hang out) do not need watering, and your lawn really only needs one good long drink per week in the event of no rainfall.
Photo by Jared Belson