Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Our Wild and Woolly Lawn

Photo of our back lawn which looks rather wild and woolly
Skimble playing 'spot the pigeon' on our back lawn recently  
If you were an ecologist and placed a number of quadrats in a random fashion on our lawn, you'd consistently find much more than plain old grass. You see, I've been rather relaxed about having a perfect lawn the past few years, and I think we have something far more interesting as a result.

Until the ash tree's demise last year, we had a back lawn which went from deep shade to a positively Mediterranean climate in just a few yards. Now it's merely light shade where all was dark previously, and all kinds of plants are trying to get in amongst the moss. It's an area which really wants to revert back to being a field again, plus it regularly weathers a veritable snowstorm of dandelions and other passing seeds.

Realistically it's never going to win Britain's Best Lawn.

I've decided life's too short and the hard work needed to try and win BBL is best left to one of our neighbours, who seems to enjoy the hours he spends outdoors primping and perfecting his sward.

I tentatively raised the subject with NAH the other day as he's the regular wielder of The Beast. I wisely couched it in terms which would appeal: less time spent mowing. He's agreed as long as the lawn doesn't have foxgloves growing in it again.

I haven't admitted to the Eryngium I've found in there yet, nor the patches of  Alchemilla, Leucothoe, Stachys, Hesperis matronalis and Centaurea montana I can see - all are escapees from the central terrace and shady beds. There aren't any foxgloves, so all's well with the world.

The increase in wildlife in our garden's noticeable this year and I think much of that's down to our now wild and woolly lawn. As well as the aforementioned garden plants, there are some quite large patches of clover and Ajuga in flower which many bees and other insects love. I often see up to a dozen blackbirds and thrushes digging their beaks into the lawn, so they must like it too.

How's your lawn looking this year?

18 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Lea - we think he's beautiful too :-)

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  2. As an organic gardener, I will never have a perfect lawn; and I make no apologies for that. The bees love it - and so long as I remove any particularly prickly lawn weeds, so do I.
    In my last garden, the lawn had been rigorously looked after for 20 years, and then I moved in and the weeds were allowed in too. A few years later we had an extremely dry summer. All the lawns in the neighbourhood turned brown, but my weeds and their flowers flourished. It was a lot prettier and more use to pollinators than the dried-out brown lawns elsewhere. Here's to your weedy lawn (with or without foxgloves).

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    1. I forgot to mention our lawn stays green in dry summers. Thanks for the reminder Sarah:-)

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  3. I agree with Sarah, the more "weeds" the better! We quite often allow our circular lawn to grow a bit longer and were amazed the first time at how many wild flowers there were. Longer grass brought in butterflies that didn't usually come to the garden, they lay their eggs on the grass. I think nearly everything benefited and it stayed green all summer.

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    1. We've had several new butterfly species in the garden this year, plus a lot more commas, Pauline. I'm sure my more relaxed attitude to our lawn has a lot to do with it.

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  4. Weeds and moss keep it green, as far as I'm concerned. I leave a whole section completely unmown for the summer - and we get lots of crickets.

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    1. Oh yes, lots of crickets here too Helen. Do you remember that flower lawn we saw at Chelsea a couple of years ago? I must look into that again as a follow-up to this post

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  5. To maintain a perfect grass sward requires a lot of chemical applications. I have mowed lawns in the past following these treatments, you can still smell the chemicals as you mow several days later.
    I am with Prince Charles on lawns, so along as it is green and grows thats ok!

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    1. Green's fine with me too Brian :-)

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  6. I always feel quite saddened when the minimal amount of grass in the gardens here is cut by the maintenance gardeners. All the dandelions, clover and daisies are stripped away. You can tell a lot about your soil by the plants that grow freely in grass as the natural seeders will thrive in certain conditions. My parents lawn was chemically treated for years (a practice I've now called a halt to) and, although no weeds, went brown and parched every summer. No surprises there as they have light sandy soil over builders' rubble!

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  7. Ha, we have clay soil over builder's rubble here, Caro. The natural seeders are thriving :-)

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  8. Yes, I've never poisoned my lawn either although I do enjoy a vigorous workout every spring with a wire rake and even though my fashionable clover lawn is only 45 square metres it is amazing how much moss I rake out in 15 minutes. I love my tapestry lawn and think low-growing 'weeds' add texture and movement from all the visitors to what would otherwise be a very boring monoculture. I do weed out by hand large dandelions and young thistles and one of my favourite lawn weeds is celandine, especially when combined with blue crocus.

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    1. I agree Sarah. I like to think of mine as the 'jewel lawn' ;) I forgot to mention the celandine it has in the spring, thank for the reminder

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  9. I have to admit that we are going to get rid of the grass in the front garden, as it is a pain to mow, but in the back we always let it get shaggy, welcome the dandelions and clover, and don't worry about awards of any kind at all. I have learnt that I can't bare to just let a patch of it go completely uncut though, it grows too tall and hides the back border from sight, and is too small an area to edge with neatly mown paths to make it look more intentional. So shaggy wins the day - even if ours isn't nearly as diverse as yours!

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    1. I agree it can't be let go completely, Janet. Ours gets mown about once a month.

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  10. I tried letting our front lawn get artfully overgrown but I was overruled and it's mown again now – and looking worse in my humble opinion ;)

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    1. I'm surprised I wasn't overruled too, Matt!

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