Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 24 total)
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    Lisa Town

    Love it or hate it?

    Eric Galvin
    Andrew Spiering

    Hmmm… Tough one. I wrote a little about this here.

    Andrew Spiering

    Good examples above! But how about when it is used in the desert like Phoenix?

    Navid Mostatabi

    I like the idea of the silent neighborhood. No lawnmowers, leafblowers, etc..

    The use bunch grasses or groundcovers can give the same clean effect as a lawn with much less water.
    Does anyone have water consumption data comparing a turf alternative like berkley sedge or mondo grass to a tall fescue?

    Carex can look identical to a turf lawn if you are moving at 25mph or faster. I have noticed that if planted on a slope it should be planted a bit tighter to give the same blurred green effect, otherwise you start to see the patchiness.

    For my residential projects the first thing I recommend to my clients is that they remove any unused lawn areas. I try and sell the idea that texture and color will add more interest and habitat quality.

    Lisa Town

    Yeah, I have a love hate thing going on with lawn as well. I can’t help but look back on my childhood days of rolling down those nicely sloped hills of lawn in the schoolyard or running barefoot through the soft green before sliding down the slip and slide on my belly….

    You know, the comment of the smell of freshly mown grass is an interesting one. Where is spring without that smell? I remember taking a walk around one neighborhood here in Germany in the fall and someone was mowing their lawn, perhaps the last cut before the winter, and it all of a sudden occurred to me that I had hardly been around that smell all year. I’m sure there were lawns being cut somewhere, but I didn’t notice it like the overwhelming smell back home in the US. I started to suddenly really pay attention to the yards and I noticed that most of the grass was really just in places where it was actually USED like the lawn “beach” along the lakefront that was constantly crowded with tourists in the summer (thank goodness we had no geese!) and the fußbal fields. But the yards didn’t really have much in the way of traditional lawns and most of the time, when there was grass there was usually some sort of open concrete block within it. It’s almost strange how many people park their cars in their front yards around here. Seriously.

    I hate to think of lawns going away entirely as they certainly have their place but I definitely agree that areas in which the lawn does not actually have a purpose, it should be designed with nicely layered grasses, grouncovers, perrenials, shrubs and trees to provide multi-layer habitat with food, perching and nesting instead of just being, essentially, dead space.


    I’m looking for lawn alternatives…. The area is a bit shady and needs to be able to take some foot traffic. I’m considering Dutch White Clover, but am open to suggestions. (I also love Carex, but think it may be too tall to walk on, and mowing would ruin the effect). If anyone has experience with this, it would be much appreciated! (Zone 6, sandy loam). Thanks in advance!

    Greg Bish

    noise…yes, I’m with you there.

    I grew up in West Virginia where lawns were large, and mowed lawn was the default condition regardless of terrain (it wasn’t unusual to see gas mowers with coils of rope attached to the handle :)…fortunately obsessive chemical lawn absolutism was the exception not the rule.

    Now i live on a relatively flat 1/5 acre lot which I mow with a plug in electric mower which is relatively quiet. I also have a plug-in “leaf blower/vacuum” which informally i self-impose time restrictions on my own use. I use the blower-vac to get junk out of the beds and on to the lawn or drive where i can gather it up “the caveman way” (rakes and brooms). I sometimes want to dope slap neighbors who are out there for 2 hours on an otherwise pleasant Saturday afternoon, improperly operating an obnoxiously loud gas-powered blower doing a job that could be done better in 15 minutes with a rake(at least better in terms of MY quality of life)

    My thought about lawn in design are:

    Why do you need one? There are infinite valid reason…but someone has to think of one for the case at hand.
    How deeply is the client initiated into the Chemical Green Lawn cult?

    then maybe i set these sorts of self imposed challenges:

    1) What would be the limits of the lawn if we assumed theoretically that it would be maintained with a “well-maintained” manual-reel mower (if such a thing existed)?

    2) What would be the limits of the lawn if we assumed theoretically that it would be maintained with a plug-in electric mower a 50′ or 60′ cord or whatever..

    These sort of parameters get me thinking about the size of the lawn, the form, but also edge conditions and slopes.

    I don’t dislike lawn as a ground cover. It can be unifying and even low-maintenace (or at least low-skill maintenance) if one is less obssesive about golf course-like results) , etc. I just don’t like when the chemical madness sets in, especially when there is no idea behind the choice of lawn.

    Greg Bish

    People always say that: “there’s something about the smell of fresh mown grass”

    Once, at a picnic, when a friend of my dad’s found out i was a Landscape Architect, he asked me a question.

    he asked: “why does my neighor’s fresh cut lawn smell better than my fresh cut lawn”..

    I was stumped..I think i responded “Probably because you didn’t have to cut it”..but it got me to thinking…with all the thousands of lawn seed mixes and selected species variations for component seeds, why have I never seen marketing focused on the SMELL of a particular mix? Seems like a niche opportunity.

    Andrew Spiering

    This sounds like a new discussion! Haha… : )

    I have spec’d No Mow Fine Fescue Blend from Pacific Sod –

    I am not sure of any suppliers in your area but it is a mix of Red, Chewings, and Hard Fescues. I am sure you could spec a seed mix of some kind and get a similar effect.

    Hope this helps… Andrew

    Dean Hill, ASLA

    Hello kiddos…
    While the maintenance and resources utilized to sustain the second largest crop in America are astronomical…people (homeowners, commercial clients, institutional clients) still desire the look and feel of the bladed wonders! Here’s a blogpost with a link to some great, historical information:

    Also, Stacy look for tall type fescues. They have good shade tolerance and can withstand some foot traffic. Also, buffalo grass is now hardy in most northern zones.

    Happy research!


    Small lawns are great. And there are so many choices of seed and plant types now. I do not confine lawns to just grass-I consider it more of a walkable plant plane (or plain!)
    I have used the “No-Mow” IN Connecticut but find that it really needs mowing the first 2 years at least 4 times to get it really thick. I have a small patch of Carex pensylvanica-bit I agree that cutting it totally ruins the look -which reminds me of grass growing in flowing water!!.


    Thanks for the useful responses! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

    (yeah- I probably should have started a new topic… sorry!)

    Bruce Zaretsky

    It’s like discussing politics or religion. A very touchy subject, especially when a lot of contractors make their living mowing lawns. I’m actually giving a seminar next week at the CENTS show in Columbus, Ohio about how to replace lawns with a meadow. A lawn for lawn’s sake is a waste of resources and a great polluter. Of course, kids need a place to run around, as do canines, but when I see a five or ten acre lawn (and I see many!) being mowed weekly for the joy of a green carpet, it makes me cringe.

    Adam Regn Arvidson

    A little while ago, I wrote a piece for Garden Design on lawn alternatives. There are some pointers there for possible substitutes, but most pertinent to this discussion is the question of design.

    I hate lawn most when it appears in tiny little remnants that are impossible to mow but still require irrigation and fertilizer. I think a great deal of American lawn could be eliminated through careful design. I think some designers see lawn as the background onto which all other design elements are placed. It should be seen, rather, as a perennial bed, and should be used just as deliberately.

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