My Lawn: Mowed 4 or 5 Times a Year

Please note that throughout this article, I will lighten the text by formulating all sentences in the “I” singular. However, in all sentences in the first person singular with the verb “to mow”, please note that I’m not talking about myself, but about my partner. I don’t mow the lawn. I’m a princess. I repeat: I do not mow the lawn!

When I Mow the Lawn… (Hihi!)

… That’s because the grass is REALLY long and it’s hard to get around. Otherwise, I let nature take its course! Much to the dismay of my neighbors, who all have green, even lawns, free of dandelions and dead leaves (and I live in the country!).

Why do I wait so long to put the tractor through this hay? Well, for several reasons. The first being that my boyfriend is lazy… er… I mean, I’m lazy! (Phew! That was a close one!).

On a more serious note, I don’t subscribe to the cult of the perfect short lawn. Quite simply. I don’t see the point of having a uniform green carpet that requires so much maintenance. Mow, fertilize, mow, mow, water, mow, seed, water, mow, weedkill (seriously?), mow, rake leaves, mow… And wonder why there are yellow spots, why it won’t grow under the trees, why the dandelions are coming back…

As Usual, I’m Speaking to You as a Biologist. Are You Ready?

The lawn was not created in a laboratory. It’s a collection of introduced wild plants that we torture by repeatedly cutting them down and forcing them to grow in places that don’t suit them. Nature is very strong and tries to live, but there are limits. If your soil is so wet that it doesn’t even dry out in a heatwave, or so dry that it’s all cracked, or the sun never touches it, stop fighting, you’re going to lose. You have to think of the lawn as a plant. If you can’t conceive of it, buy synthetic turf!

Nature wants to live. Your lawn is a war zone! Each blade of grass tries to rise above the others to get more light. Every dandelion seed that comes along tries to root deep to get access to the water your lawn neglects. Every animal that passes through tries to find a meal or shelter.

You Have a Choice to Make, as Supreme Lord of This Grassy Territory

Choice 1: The Dictator.

Introduce a high, recurring tax system (i.e. cut it short and often!), fines (pesticides for EVERYONE) and cause famine (if you REALLY want to suffocate your town, collect the cut grass instead of leaving it: it’s like asking the people – your lawn – to work, then taking away what they’ve earned, while starving them MOUHAHAHAHA!). When the people seem too stifled by this way of life, calm the revolt by throwing them food (fertilizer).

Choice 2: the UN.

Be a mediator in this war. Let the different species grow as they please, settle in, take what they need. Let them organize themselves and you’ll see: a balance will be established in this war zone. It will become a beautiful, flourishing, diverse, balanced and healthy environment… and a tourist attraction!

So, what kind of grass-lord are you?

OK, but at Some Point You Have to Cut!

Yes, I know. My youngest, doesn’t like to do his business when the lawn is up to his eyes (I’m talking about my dog, of course!).

I mow more often where he does what he has to do, as well as the paths to the garden or garden shed. After all, we’ve got a tick problem in the area, so you don’t have to do it on purpose either!

Otherwise, I mow when it’s knee-high… and part of my plot is left completely fallow. When I pass the tractor, I leave everything in place. Two days later, it’s gone. It decomposes and feeds the plants I’ve just damaged.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I mowed my dogs’ poop spot this week. Under the 25 centimetres of hay I removed, there was a world. In a square about 4 meters square, I disturbed a toad and a garter snake. Don’t worry, as I mow as long as possible, neither was harmed. A little taken aback, admittedly, but they moved on a few yards and found themselves back in a cool, damp habitat, rich in food and hiding places.

These two individuals are not the only ones living in my lawn: they are predators, so their presence also confirms that of prey. Insects, worms, small mammals, birds…

As someone who has chosen to live in the countryside, and who is aware of my impact on the natural world around my home, I have chosen to admire this life and allow it to continue.

My Lawn, My Choice

It’s not for everyone: if you live in the city, play sports outdoors, have young children and a phobia of ticks, I totally understand. But for ME, my lawn is long, full of life, requires very little maintenance… and I’m not going to cut it any more to please my neighbors, my mother (sorry mom!) or Louis XIV.

Living in nature is my pride and joy. So is not giving in to social pressure. FREE THE LAWN!

Forgive my rant, but I’m tired of being told my lawn is too long and full of dandelions. Two years ago, a pizza deliveryman made a comment… Really!? All the photos in my article are of my lawn: is it so unsightly? I don’t care, I like it!

Audrey Martel is a biologist who graduated from the University of Montreal. After more than ten years in the field of scientific animation, notably for Parks Canada and the Granby Zoo, she joined Nature Conservancy of Canada to take up new challenges in scientific writing. She then moved into marketing and joined Leo Studio. Full of life and always up for a giggle, or the discovery of a new edible plant, she never abandoned her love for nature and writes articles for both Nature sauvage and the Laidback Gardener.

10 comments on “My Lawn: Mowed 4 or 5 Times a Year

  1. I would be all for this, but my husband worries about ticks so cuts it all every few weeks or so. I’m going to lobby for at least leaving alone the parts we don’t go in often – I like the meadow and flower look more than expanses of short grass. PS I don’t mow either and not sure I’ve ever even touched a lawnmower!

  2. grrlrocks

    I’m in northern Wyoming – wonderful, windy Wyoming. I’d read a couple of years ago about some fellow Wyomingites who ended up, after several years of unsuccessfully getting grass to grow in particularly wind-blasted spots – but finally tried clover, and it took hold nicely. It’s a great substitute for grass, especially the short varieties that won’t need mowing very often, if at all. It also takes less water, and actually amends the soil. Win – win – win! I’ve bought some miniature clover seed to seed several tricky areas in my lawn this fall with it, and will likely buy more and throw it all over the yard!

  3. Love this!YES!!FREE THE LAWN!!:-)

  4. Victoria

    Right there with you Audrey! Thank you for your confirmation! Being a nature lover myself, I would rather see natural wildflowers growing in their native habitat, than the ridiculous toxic lawn where no living creature can survive.

  5. I have my grass at several different heights. Some it short for the birds. Some is maybe a couple of inches high and some I am deliberately trying to turn in to a wildflower meadow with native wildflowers and grass together that you cut in august/September and then keep short until it’s time to stop mowing for winter and then do nothing until the same time next year.

  6. Dan Bolton

    After purchasing our property 5 years ago, I had the good fortune to meet the farmer whose family had previously farmed the area.

    He told me the prairie was cleared of its sparse cedar stands and converted to flower bulb production in the early 1900’s. Around the second world war, the bulbs were sold off and the fields were used for hay, or livestock. Our property was left as an undeveloped hay field until the time we purchased it. Most of the properties around us were developed with McMansions. The funny thing about a hay field is that it isn’t the monoculture it appears to be from a distance. The property has enough diversity to support a wide range of wildlife and allows us the freedom to experience different wildlife weather we mow or not, usually not.

  7. lenkalee lenkalee

    Thank you for producing such a fascinating essay slope on this subject. This has sparked a lot of thought in me, and I’m looking forward to reading more.

  8. Laurie Macdonald

    Wild women for beauty, health and nature unite !

  9. Margaret

    I’m with you… and love it. ?? I leave my grass as long as I can but I’ve never found a critter. My old place had snakes, one of which was high on the endangered list. I love the plants that are naturally moving in and adding to the green space: clovers, pineapple weed, plantain, mushrooms, wild lettuce; all of which I can use. I have never understood people using the lawn as a money pit. They spend so much on feeding, killing weeds and trying for green perfection, only to sweat while they mow it all down. Silly.

  10. Victoria

    I love this article! It’s good to know the rules before you break them. Knowing who made the rules and why should always come into question. I’ll admit I do mow pretty often but rarely fertilize and don’t use weed killers. Live and let live I always say. However, there is one reason (other than slavish conformity) why so many city, town, and village residents mow their lawns short. Unless you have a riding mower
    (most people who have smaller tracts to mow don’t have one of these gadgets ) getting a regular walk-behind mower through really tall grass is an impossibility and, if you do manage, the resulting long cut grass laying on top of the just-cut adjacent grass will shade it out and kill it.

    Yes, I do my own lawn mowing, edging, mulching and pruning and am the general dogsbody around here. I am not a princess but I do have aspirations toward that designation.

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