by Rebecca Kolls
What is it with Americans and their lawns? As a group, we’re obsessed with perfecting our yard and its terrific turf. From broad expanses of green carpet stretching from curb to front door to those perfectly groomed checkerboard backyards, lawns are high art for some homeowners. We spend hours working, watering, and fertilizing, arming ourselves with an arsenal of chemicals to create this “green” landscape. But with every manicured patch of grass comes an increasingly nagging question: “How sustainable can something so green be?”
I’ve recently been talking more to homeowners about how to lose their lawns. I’ve even tried putting my own advice to use. I planted plugs of creeping thyme and encouraged creeping charlie. (Apparently, this is also the perfect way to get rid of creeping charlie.) “Steppable” ground covers might be just the ticket for postage-stamp-sized yards, but there’s hope, too, for bigger suburban yards. And it’s been under our collective nose for centuries: Buffalograss, a native grass, is short and slow-growing, and it’s found in the Great Plains. It was here long before us, evolving to survive any onslaught from Mother Nature. It’s drought-tolerant, disease-resistant, and doesn’t have to be artificially fed.
We can’t really fool Mother Nature, but we can learn from her. And maybe more consumers, as sustainability keeps creeping like charlie, are ready to do just that.