… it’s better for everyone (except your chiropractor)

By Candy Venni

The last 10 years have seen gardens trends move from the fussy and high maintenance Victorian style, to the ‘No Mow’ natural look. As much as I fully support our pollinators, I also don’t expect everyone to rip up their grass, toss the boxwoods and ditch every annual. Instead, let’s find a place where both sides can collaborate and move forward while supporting the environment and saving your back muscles.

  • Try this to amend soil; just add manure as required & sweep leaves directly into the perennial beds. The leaves act as mulch to keep out weeds, while worms and water percolate the manures’ nutrients into the soil. Turning the soil (as many landscape maintenance companies do) is actually detrimental, it disturbs the roots of trees, perennials, and the highly beneficial nematodes, fungi, and insects necessary for optimal earth.
  • Try these easy care, drought tolerant, pollinator friendly and tough perennials: Liatris, Coneflower, Columbine, Salvia & Sedum. Easy annuals: Verbena bonariensis, Nicotania, Alyssum, Calendula (Also easy to save the seeds, skip buying, on all of these and sow directly at the end of May)
  • The lawn has come under a lot of scrutiny of late but it remains a living, breathing, permeable and cooling surface – unlike concrete or acres of black mulch. Many smaller gardens won’t need grass; good design and a choice of interesting groundcovers will eliminate mowing (Actually rescuing you from the tyranny of fixing, storing, buying, gassing and starting a mower)

BUT a lawn is also the homeowner’s version of a meadow – it’s traditional and goes with a traditional home.  Larger properties require a grassy area to keep the place looking cared for and inviting. A lawn does not have to be a monoculture with nary a bloom in sight, allowing small spring bulbs, clover and ‘gasp’, the occasional weed is OK & actually encouraged. An innovative and dependable alternative, Eco-lawn  is drought tolerant, requires less fertilizing and can be mown like regular grass or left un-mown for a free-flowing ‘carpet effect’. (More info on their homepage www.wildflowerfarm.com)

If you intend to stick with your own, regular sod, try ‘Grasscycling,’ which was featured on CBC radio (search their site for the audio file); it involves mowing a dry lawn to prevent clumps of clippings and only cutting off an inch or so, letting the clippings fall as a more ecological source of nitrogen and a natural mulch to keep out weeds.

And there we have it, don’t bag and toss your leaves or mow the grass too much, never mind raking out the beds or turning the soil. Try even one of the tips listed above and count the benefits of your ‘lacklabour’ rewards towards a more ecological garden.