Greening Up The Grass

On the borders of the property, these areas can be buffers and screens, where the best care is the least care. Here, grassy areas can be mowed infrequently. A natural buffer between your property and the neighbors’ yards also provides a good place to rake or blow leaves.

Forgoing the bagging of leaves not only saves time and money, but provides natural mulch to reduce chemical maintenance, and is also a means to conserve water.

If one’s sense of aesthetics dictates a lawn is necessary, grasses that require less care can be selected. In the Northeast, these are the fescues, and include the fine-leaf fescues, which are Creeping Red Fescue, Chewing’s Fescue, and Hard Fescue.

Other durable species are the improved turf-type tall fescues adapted to athletic fields and high-traffic areas. Once established, they require less water and fertilizer.

Advocates of “Freedom Lawn” also are gaining ground. This philosophy foregoes pesticides and fertilizers, and instead encourages existing vegetation, grasses, and weeds to flourish with infrequent mowing.

Another growing movement of lawn aficionados is moving toward native species of grass, sedges, or moss to form a mantle of green, replacing conventional lawns.

Native Plants

To lessen the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and maintenance, native plants can be used. Native species are members of a community that includes other plants, animals, and microorganisms.

In this manner, native plants provide a natural balance that keeps each species in check, allowing them to thrive in suitable conditions, but preventing them from running amok.

Native species rarely become invasive unless something major disrupts the natural balance of the community. Native plants provide food and shelter for birds, butterflies, and other desirable wildlife.

Since many of these native plants are xeriphytic, they require little water on a dry landscape as well as on other landscape sites. These species are low-maintenance lawn grasses, trees, shrubs, and perennials that will help to create a more ecologically sound landscape.

Since water has become a limiting factor in many communities—especially during hot dry spells—landscaping that minimizes water is encouraged, but requires careful planning to ensure drought-resistant plant varieties are used.

Planting a wide spectrum of species, from local wildflowers to native plants to non-invasive plants, will attract local pollinators, beneficial insects, and hummingbirds to visit gardens again and again.

Recycling Yard Waste Into Wealth

Transforming yard waste into yard wealth involves nothing more than recycling all organic matter, including leaves, grass clippings, and yard trimmings that can be reduced, or even recycled.

Recycling as much as possible in a yard eliminates the need for the outside input of fertilizers, whose excessive use in the suburban landscape can be a source of runoff or non-point source pollution.

Recycling kitchen vegetable and fruit waste in a compost pile, mixed with leaves and grass clippings, produces rich humus for gardens and lawns.

According to Bruce Butterfield of the National Gardening Association, since 2008 there has been a renewed interest in household participation in food gardening. Thirty-one percent of all United States households, an estimated 36 million, have participated in food gardening, including growing vegetables, fruit, berries, and herbs.

What’s better than allowing a place for homeowners to grow their own vegetables in compost that they created?


Tallamy, Douglas W. 2006. Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants. Portland: Timber Press.

Pollan, Michael. 1991. Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education. New York: Dell Publishing.

Faust, Joan Lee. “Greensward Care without Pesticides.” New York Times May 15, 1988:58.

Bruce, Butterfield. Personal communication. National Gardening Association. South Burlington, Vermont, 2008 (May)

Dr. Carl A. Salsedo specializes in sustainable landscapes for the University of Connecticut’s Department of Extension in West Hartford, Conn. Reach him at  

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Related posts:

  1. Plant Something On Sept. 8
  2. Native Grasses Give Natural Touch
  3. Blending In
  4. Alien Invaders
  5. Painting The Lawn Green?

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