Laidback Gardener Tip of the Week

Why Not Bring Back the True Lawn?

août 11Here’s a concept that will appeal to laidback gardeners who still want a “nice” lawn. Why not step back two generations to the type of lawn grown for four centuries: a mixture of lawn grasses and white clover (Trifolium repens)? I can recall how proud my father was of his grass and clover lawn: it was the height of fashion and any gardener worth his salt would have told you grasses grow better when mixed with clover (it was true then and is still true today.) When lawn herbicides came into vogue in the late 1950s, though, the chemical companies that sold them declared clover a weed (and spent millions convincing gardeners of that too), since they were unable to develop a herbicide that killed other broad-leaved weeds, but not clover. Bye-bye clover, bye-bye low-care lawn.

Well, it’s about time to bring back the “true lawn”. Environmentally conscious gardeners no longer use herbicides in their lawns anyway (they are even illegal in many parts of Canada), so what’s stopping you?

When you sow a new lawn or reseed an old lawn, include 10% of white clover seeds in the mixture. You’ll find your new lawn is greener and needs little to no fertilizer (clover pulls nitrogen out of the air and shares it with lawn grasses). Insects like white grubs will decrease in numbers to the point of becoming harmless: they don’t like clover! And clover stays green even during the deepest droughts. So, rediscover the grass and clover lawn: 400 years of tradition rediscovered!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

1 comment on “Laidback Gardener Tip of the Week

  1. Grass is stupid: You can’t eat it and it just makes a job (mowing) during the hottest time of the year. However, since it’s going to take me some time to get rid of all of it, I will try the white clover thing, even though I am opposed to spending money on grass. The bees will be happy.

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