Tired of Mowing? Consider a No Mow Lawn

If you’re fed up with pushing the mower around every weekend or just want to save water and maximize the ecological capacity of your lawn, a no-mow lawn is a great choice.

Fed with lawn fertilizer, sprayed with hundreds or thousands of gallons of water, and trimmed with lawnmowers that often release dangerous pollutants, most traditional lawns are not ecological. And to maintain what is effectively a large monoculture of one or two species of grass, which are often non-native, traditional lawns usually rely on fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and at the very least, frequent maintenance.

Photo by Daniel Watson on Unsplash

What is a No Mow Lawn?

Unlike the closely cropped lawns of suburban America, no mow lawns are slightly more unruly. Instead of the usual varieties of grass, no-mow lawns are grown with drought-tolerant perennial grasses, which are often mixed with bulbs and wildflowers to create a meadow-like appearance. This makes your no-mow lawn grow longer than the average neighborhood lawn (exactly how long depends on the species) but also requires minimal amounts of water, little if any fertilizer, and much less maintenance than the traditional lawn.

You can still carry out most of the usual activities you would on a lawn — picnicking, playing, and relaxing in the sun — but don’t expect to be able to host a croquet tournament or a putting championship! This functionality is swapped for low maintenance and enormous ecological benefit — for the insects, birds, mammals — and ultimately the planet.

Ecological Benefits of a No Mow Lawn

While traditional lawns are ecological deserts, no mow lawns can be ecological havens—providing a natural home for a wide variety of species of flora and fauna. The nectar and pollen provided by wildflowers and grasses, so often lost during the mowing process, is once again available to the bees and butterflies that have become so rare in many suburban areas.

The native grasses in a no-mow lawn also provide breeding locations for these insects and nesting materials for predators higher up the food chain. With insects to feed on and long grass for nesting, birds are likely to enjoy making a presence close by, along with potentially even small and large mammals (depending on your area).

Planting a No Mow Lawn

No-mow lawns are fairly easy to install, and over the long run, cost less than the traditional lawn. But, you will need to invest in grass seed which shouldn’t cost more than 7 dollars per pound and will need to be distributed in accordance with the instructions on the bag of seed.

Grass Species to Use in a No Mow Lawn

There is a wide range of potential grass species to choose from for your no-mow lawn. Depending on your preferences, you might select native meadow grasses for maximum ecological benefit or more ornamental grasses that are more visually appealing.

  • For smaller areas, like borders and the oddly shaped sections between pavers, Dwarf Mondo Grass is a popular choice and requires no mowing at all.
  • For larger lawn areas, Fescues are often used. And some no mow lawn mixes like this one rely on a range of different fescues to form a robust, disease-resistant, low-maintenance lawn.

If you are worried that the lawn will look too unruly, you can try creating a xeriscaping border around the lawn.

Maintenance for a No Mow Lawn

Though no-mow lawns are significantly less work, you will still have to do some maintenance. You’ll have to spend a little time controlling invading species, and it is a good idea to actually — despite the name — mow it occasionally (or burn depending on the species involved). Exactly how often you will need to mow depends on the species, but you may wish to maintain the grasses at a certain level to prevent them from going to seed. Despite this, no mow lawns do not require nearly as much mowing as a traditional lawn, and some species require little to no maintenance.

Depending on your local climate, no mow lawns may also have to be watered occasionally, but fertilizer is not generally required. If you want to learn more, I recommend picking up a copy of Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives by Evelyn Hadden. The book is full of inspirational no-mow lawn designs, along with practical tips to help you get started on the path to no mowing.

By Guest Author Laurence Bennet for the big blog of gardening

Source: Tired of Mowing? Consider a No Mow Lawn (msn.com)

To water or not to water? Classic debate over summer lawn care begins

Every summer, neighbors on either side of their respective fences revive the great debate about which is better when it comes to summer lawn care. Do you water all summer or let Mother Nature take its course?

Photographer Richard Hentschel.

You can find pros and cons on both sides of the fence. One of the biggest perks is enjoying a beautiful, lush green lawn in the height of the summer heat, which has the downside when July’s water bill comes.

Hentschel advises deciding whether you are going to water or not in spring because it determines what other lawn management practices are needed.

If you are going to water all summer, that changes the fertilizer program, mowing frequency, and when to collect or leave lawn clippings. Depending on the age of the lawn, disease management may also be on your list.

Those who decide to water will need to maintain a higher level of care including adding fertilizer. The typical cool-season grasses naturally expect to go dormant during the heat of summer. Keeping the grass alive with water means it will need more energy through fertilizer. More water and more fertilizer mean more frequent mowing and an overall increase in the amount of time you’re likely to spend on lawn management.

If you have an older lawn, the potential for lawn fungal diseases can increase with more water and fertilizer. Newer lawns are grown from improved seeds that are less prone to disease. A good preventative practice is to map out your watering so the lawn is dry well before the end of the sunshine. Consider starting on the north or east sides of the home, where it will take longer to dry and finish on southern or western exposures.

For those who opt-out of watering, the lawn will stay green as long as the rain lasts. It will go dormant when the weather turns hot and dry.

Homeowners will find plenty of cost savings with this option. In addition to using less water, you’ll use less fertilizer because grass that is dormant does not need to be fertilized. A dormant lawn will also need to be mowed less often, meaning less fuel for the mower.

One of the best ways to keep your lawn looking good is to mow higher, more often, and with a sharp mower blade.

The taller grass blade further shades the soil, helping to retain what soil moisture is there. This works out very well for the lawn, whether you water or not.

There will be no need to figure out what to do with all the clippings either, so long as they do not smother the lawn.

To keep your grass green for as long as possible, Hentschel suggests top-dressing the lawn annually with quality black dirt or other organic matter that will absorb and hold water for the lawn to use later.

Article by Richard Hentschel,

Source: Gardeners Corner Summer 2021: University of Illinois Extension