70419thumbTurf grasses are the ultimate in groundcover. They are very durable, and useful for covering large areas in a very user friendly manner. The toughest varieties are used for athletic fields because they withstand the wear and tear. In home gardens, all sorts of varieties are grown as lawns. Like other groundcovers, lawns limit erosion, and are cleaner than bare summer dust and winter mud.

Yes, turf grasses and lawns are the most useful of plant materials; but they are also the most demanding. They require more water than almost anything else, except only aquatic plants and some bedding plants. A healthy lawn must be mown and edged regularly, and as often as weekly in warm weather. Weeds are difficult to control once established. Gophers can cause serious damage.

Regardless, for all sorts of landscapes ranging from athletic fields to home gardens, a lawn is worth the work it takes to grow it. Only Trona High School has a dirt athletic field; and only because the soil is too saline and the weather is too scorching for turf grass. At least home garden lawns are more modest than they were years ago, with larger patios and decks, and other groundcover.

Artificial turf still has a bad reputation. The first AstroTurf of the late 1960s was nothing like real turf grass. It had a coarse texture, and eventually faded and deteriorated. Its main problem was that it was so regularly compared to real turf grass instead of recognized for its own attributes as an alternative to lawn, like carpeting for outdoor spaces. Yet, it was popular for certain applications.

Modern artificial turf looks and feels a bit more convincing, and is more resistant to wear and weathering. It might be more convincing if it were not so perfectly uniform. It is already more popular than old fashioned AstroTurf was, even for playgrounds and athletic fields. Artificial turf is expensive to purchase and install, but not as expensive as the maintenance and watering of real grass.

Compared to the installation of real turf grass that needs irrigation and soil amendment, the installation of artificial turf necessitates less excavation. It is therefore less invasive to the shallow roots of established trees and shrubs that are already in the landscape. However, plants that are accustomed to generous lawn irrigation might need to be watered through newly installed artificial turf.

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20 thoughts on “The Lawn Is Always Greener

  1. What a great, appealing photo! And those are reasoned words about lawns and turf grass. I must say that the appeal of native plants and alternate ground covers is increasing here. People finally are getting that lawn-cost in terms of water, and are tiring of watching expensive, non-native plants shrivel in the drought conditions that have been part of life here forever. I still hve memories of going barefoot in the grass, and how wonderful it feels, but that was Iowa, and a wholly different kind of grass. No one enjoys being barefoot in our Texas lawns — except maybe the kids.

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    1. Lawns would be more important if more people went out and enjoyed them. In the 1970s, all the kids in the neighborhood wanted to play baseball in the baseball field in the local park. Kids who wanted to fly a kite actually had to compete for space, and often got their kites tangled with others. The vast lawns in the parks are still maintained, but are not used much. Home lawns are not used much either. Children who enjoy being outside while very young are quickly taught to stay inside.

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      1. Yes, and allowing our children to be a little more free-range and active — as we used to be — could help solve several problems: not the least of which is obesity.

        I give thanks constantly for this dialog from my childhood:

        Me: There’s nothing to do.
        Mother: Go find something.

        So I did. And now, I’m perfectly able to entertain myself.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Even though I detest artificial turf, I hate wasteful lawn even more. Artificial turf is quite functional for many applications.
      It must be nice going into autumn after a long summer. Our summer is not here yet.

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  2. Lawn grass, one of the few crops that man plants, tends and worries about that provice no nutrition and is basically for esthetic use. I got rid of the lawn when I had my home, the whole yard was a garden, flowers from spring to frost. It was certainly far more beautiful than grass, required almost no watering, the weeding was easy and the time spent far more enjoyable and certainly cheaper (no mower, no gasoline for the mower, no pollution from the mower, no exertion from a push mower). The interesting thing was quite a few other residents on my street also got rid of the grass and did the same sort of total garden.

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    1. I SO hated my lawn when I lived in town. I would not have minded it so much if there had been children living in our building, who might have used it for something. If I let it get too dry, one of the tenants would complain about it. I could not get rid of it because the tenants on the lower flower did not want plant material in front of their doors and windows.

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      1. I can’t have a planter here, the other building owners call the city and complain about encouraging rodents and other pests, yet the dumpster lids don’t get closed, garbage strewn around the dumpsters and garbage cans but a couple pots with flowers and maybe vegetables are more unacceptable. This place would be great for someone who hates plants, lots of asphalt and concrete.

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      2. Oh, that is horrible! One of the neighbors in town actually complained about our vegetable garden! It did not stop us though. (That was the same neighborhood where the neighbor behind cut down all the trees and complained that I hung my laundry in the back yard.

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