Another Man’s Revolution-Scaling Back the Lawn Care

by andrewodom on February 1, 2011 · 19 comments


Years ago as a youngster, I used to marvel at the manicured emerald green lawns my older neighbors meticulously tended to as I tenaciously waited for the shot at my own. Years had passed and we purchased our first home which was a semi-fixer upper with less than average soil for a lush lawn. After doing my homework I took a soil sample to the local feed and seed and found out our soil was highly acidic. I bought the recommended tonnage of lime and potash among other ingredients to make my emerald fields come alive in the way my elders’ lawns did.

I created a carpet like front lawn that was deep green as emeralds with not a weed one in sight, tending to it as if it were a child of mine sparing no expense and time. On my hands and knees combing through the rich and lush blades of fescue looking for any rogue weed even daring to emerge was a favorite past time as hours were spent performing the tedious task. Stretching out the water hoses and sprinklers morning and evening to keep the soil and root systems alive was a task itself. Then came the weed and feed fertilizers, pelletized iron (organic), pelletized and pulverized lime (organic), and weed pre-emergent which I dispersed on a monthly basis unless I saw there was a need for lime and iron for deficient spots here and there. These items came at a decent cost and were also easily stock-able in my garage for future use.

A couple years had passed and we sold that house and bought the abode in which we currently reside. The lawn here was nil as far as beauty. There were weeds and tall grasses which needed to be tamed and I was the man for it. Countless hours and money were spent just as I had done at our previous home with great results. Water hoses, sprinklers, ferts. and many other tools and amendments were used to gain the sea of emeralds I previously worked so hard for. This yard is twice the size of the earlier and received more direct sunlight thus increasing the water requirements as well as all the soil amendments. This became quite the chore as our family grew once more, my job title changed, the real estate market hit rock bottom, and we were scrambling to make all our ends meet as a result thereof. My January 25th, 2011 post “Squeeze a Buck Lately?” is also a result of the same.

What we are up against now is a desolate lawn. The past couple years we have not set any money aside for our lawn and it has gone downhill. We miss our lawn dearly, but what were we gaining from it? A compliment here and there and a lot of work and money wasted. So, basically we have lost nothing. We’ve gained time and money by not tending to it in the extreme fashion. We’ve been pondering ways to rejuvenate our picturesque landscape and have come up with a couple ideas.

  1. Planting all sorts of food crops and  fruit trees on our less than 1/4 acre lot. It is understood that there is a movement across the nation to utilize the complete lot, or as much as possible to grow food for our family and community. And as much as we would love to, I don’t think we can dedicate the time necessary to keep it afloat without losing a lot of hard work and money. If we were in a more rural area, and the j.o.b. wasn’t so demanding I can see this working for us.
  2. Reseeding with fescue grass and return to the same maintenance schedule as before. Although, one of the most beautiful lawns, this method has obviously been one of the many drains on our pocket in the past and requires a good amount of attention and money to keep this type of lawn healthy. We would also incur the cost of a sprinkler system and the digging of a well to insure the success of this type of lawn. Fescue and other turf type lawns require overseeding every fall which is yet another costly expense.
  3. Buying a couple pallets of sod. This day and age anyone can buy sod for almost any type grass. This type of application is costly up front including fixing the bed so the sod roots will take. And there’s always patches that will need to be tended to throughout its first year.
  4. Seed with a stolon type grass; Zoysia to be precise. These grasses thrive in heat, require much less water, create and utilize atmospheric nitrogen, and only needs to be cut once every week or so. Zoysia, and many others in the family (Centipede, St. Augustine, Kentucky Bluegrass), should only need fertilzer amended to the soil in early spring and just before the first fall frost. Stolon type grasses are also known for choking out weeds and other rogue plants thus dismissing the use of weed killer, the use of which may harm the very grass we are trying to protect. Each bag of seed costs roughly $40.00 and we will need two. The only downside is it will go dormant after the first fall frost and leave us with a brown lawn until spring beckons its wake. 

As you can see there are many different options to a nice and healthy lush lawn. From expense to time to ease and cost effectiveness, Zoysia is the way for us. We don’t want to incur these annual and monthly costs along with the wallet pilfering installation of a pump and well and sprinkler system and the maintenance therein. As for watering our Zoysia, we will set up the occasional sprinkler or two, but our area is prone to evening summer showers and storms which will sustain the grass and keep it beautiful for us.

What type of lawn do you keep? Is having a manicured lawn important to you? Have you had any success with stolon type grasses? Do you have any recommendations for folks keeping any of the lawns listed here?

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