The Perfect Lawn (?)

Long-time readers of this blog will know this isn’t my lawn! While this is a lawn from the same side of my street, first of all, it’s lovely flat  ground, not the ski slope side of a hill that I live on.

They will also immediately recognize, from my post last year of summer weeds, and creeping weeds and all manner of other weeds, that this lawn has none of them and many of my “weeds” posts were taken right on my own property.  So, clearly not my yard.

As most gardeners know, monocultures of anything aren’t good.  That’s why even most grass seed bags are “blends” of a couple of different seeds or different types of the same seed (a mix of fescues, for example).  That way, if one particular grass gets a fungus, the others might by more resistant.  Some in the blend are going to be more heat tolerant. And who knows, maybe someday, they’ll even find one that’s more resistant to grubs.

Before the days of big agri-businesses, everybody had clover in their lawns and everybody knew it was a good thing, because clover helped keep nitrogen in the soil and nitrogen helps grow good grass.  Unfortunately, clover is not resistant to any of the weed killers, so now it is labeled a “weed.”  Wrong plant, wrong place–at least in the mind of the agri-businesses.

To my mind, a lot of our lawn weeds are actually quite pretty.  As I walk the dog every day, I see a great variety of weeds–and even some cultivated plants that are sold in the nursery that pay money for–in the lawn.  In the garden center, they’re worth $4.99–$9.99.  In the lawn, they have to be sprayed and poisoned.  Lamium, violets, ajuga and veronica all fall into this category.  Go figure.

And with the exception of violets, which can get a bit out of hand in the lawn (as I suppose they all can, except that violets spread by 3 methods–that is a bit much even for a tree-hugger like me!), most of these can just be controlled by mowing at the right right time.  Just mow the darn things down when they’re about to seed and be done with it.  And seriously, would you rather have that sterile landscape above?  Or a bit of what I’ll show you below?

Lamium or henbit, as the “weed” is known

Out in Colorado, this is known as a wildflower and called Pussytoes.  Here we spray it with herbicide and call it a weed.

This is creeping veronica–and it’s often found in both blue and white or a mix of both in lawns.  It goes dormant after flowering.

And finally, the dreaded violets, with ajuga.  Many species of butterflies nectar feed on violets so while its best not to let them get out of hand, a few here and there, or in an out of the way sunny spot can provide food for your butterflies.

2 thoughts on “The Perfect Lawn (?)

  1. planthoarder April 30, 2012 / 9:07 am

    Sometimes I think my front “lawn” is nothing but violets and dandelions. The bees and butterflies seem to love it. There is a large patch of grass in my backyard untroubled by all the weeds. That’s where my black walnut grows.

    • gardendaze April 30, 2012 / 9:21 am

      I did a series of posts last year about what the different “weeds” meant in the lawn. I took it from Paul Tukey’s excellent book on organic lawn care. Most of my lawn weeds indicate either that my soil is compacted or that it is too acidic, for example–no surprise to me at all. If I recall correctly, violets indicate an imbalance betweent the calcium absorbtion ratio. But they are just lovely and they are an excellent nectar food for butterflies.

      As for the black walnut, I also did a post maybe two summers back about those lovely alleopathic plants–the black walnut, sunflowers, and surprisingly lesser known ones like maples. You’re quite lucky to have grass growing–it must be a very hardy species. But hey, don’t knock it–just enjoy!

      And thanks for reading!


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