Drought? Say Buh Bye to your Lawn...
As a society we have been trained to pick up our leaves, deadhead the flowers and mow the lawn so short that it is a veritable food desert.
We are in a time of extreme change, due to our changing climate and extreme weather. Here in Maine we had the hottest summer on record with humidity off the charts. When it rained, it came down in buckets and it did not soak in, just created damage. Everything seems very off. Some plants bloomed early, late or not at all. Our native plants have relationships with our native insects. They need each other, as we see this relationship breakdown, plants are disappearing along with our important pollinator bugs and insects.
When I was a very young child Rachel Carson wrote a book that changed the world. Silent Spring. Brilliant book, she drew the correlation that poisons (DDT in this case) had driven the Eagle population was driven almost to extinction. A magic thing happened, Rachel let the Genie out of the bottle and America wised up for a moment in time. DDT was outlawed and the Eagle population has been on an upward trajectory ever since! Rachels book inspired Earth Day and the EPA. Where did these visionaries of the 60's and 70' go? How did we end up in a world where the weather is as unpredictable as our government?
What can you do? Plenty is the answer. IN this time of drought turn to Native Gardens and landscapes. When we give our gardens the diversity they require we will have neighborhoods of gardens filled with Birds, Bugs and Butterflies.
In the Autumn, keep your leaves under your trees and in your flower beds. This is where all of the eggs for next years bugs overwinter. We have been throwing away next years crop of bugs for more than 50 years. We have almost scrubbed the place clean. We must stop this tidy practice. We are killing future generations of bugs, which are birdfood.
Lawn Alternatives? We love a diverse mix of low growing ground covers. Gives the look of a lawn without the fuss and expense, financially and to the planet. We often use Dutch Clover and seed it as we mow, the grass disappears and the Clover takes over. There are many plants that are well suited for a sturdy green space that can handle foot traffic, playing and an occasional picnic! A few other plants are Thyme, (low growing varieties) Barren Strawberry, Various Mosses, if shady and of course all of the fabulous wild grasses that give a wild and wonderful look, mixed with some Milkweeed, Asters and other pollinator plants, you could have a meadow!
Have you noticed an uptick of signs on lawns announcing that it is "poisoned" and no one must go on the lawn. Funny, kids and dogs play on that lawn and cancer is on the rise. Have you read that some poisons are safe. They are not, you are being lied to, every time you read or hear this statement. NO poison just kills Mosquitos or ticks, they kill a spectrum of life. Why is this OK? They are sending poison into the storm drains out to the river and down to the seashore with reckless abandon. Killing birds, fish and bugs along the way. Why? for a green lawn? This truly makes me weep. We can do better. Why would anyone pay money to poison the planet, their pets and their families with a disregard for neighbors and life in general. Who? Hopefully not you.
Wild gardens, good for the planet, birds, bugs and YOU!
Happy wild gardening,