The Making of a Great Lawn

The Making of a Great Lawn
Our lawn at the beginning of September. It’s actually lush and green this year. We have the rainy weather in August to thank.

Behold the Beauty

“His lawn looks like a putting green.” “I keep my lawn like a golf course.” “The HOA told me I have to take care of the ‘weed problem’ in my yard.” “What am I supposed to put on my grass right now?” “How do I get my lawn to green-up?” “I need to buy 15 leyland cypresses to block the view of my neighbor’s hideous yard.” Through ten years working in garden centers, I heard all of the pride, envy, embarrassment, frustration and confusion of homeowners concerned with the look of their (or someone else’s) grass.

It amazes me how some people worry over the silliest things. What makes a lawn “perfect” anyway (or even “great”)? Is there a “perfect” strain of grass, height of cut or depth of green that will save a suburban home from the watchful eyes of “concerned” neighbors looking out for everyone else’s property values? Probably not. Besides, there are plenty of folks who hate the look of a green carpet.  Some prefer very little grass at all, filling the space with perennials, trees and shrubs instead.  Others enjoy the lawn with all of the “weeds” included, thank you very much. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder!

To Good Health and Friendship

To me, a great lawn is one that fulfills a few criteria. First of all, it must be healthy. Whether it resembles a golf green, a meadow, a woodland glade or a desert, it has its own unique requirements to look its best and thrive. A great lawn should have its needs met intentionally, proactively. The second requirement is that it must follow established community expectations, or have been given a pardon to do otherwise. This is not to say that various gardening philosophies cannot intermingle. What it means is that moving into a community is to become part of it and the HOA was part of the deal from the start. Even without an HOA, the yard should at least be neutral with regard to neighborhood relations. A great lawn can actually help to build relationships. How?

Not everyone’s lawn can be great or else great would be common. By it’s nature greatness is unusual. Great lawns stand out in the community for some particular reason, often several. Regardless of why it stands out, there is usually an element of it that others are either curious about or possibly wish to emulate. The lawn is a conversation starter.  The relationships being built depend partly on the owner’s personality. Too prideful and everyone else in the neighborhood may build their relationships without you.

field of dandelions
Many lawn perfectionists would cringe at the thought of dandelions in their yard. Who wouldn’t want to walk in this field? Photo by Tobi Gaulke via Flikr

I have seen a few great lawns.  I will never have one.  I’m content living in the unincorporated county with no HOA, experimenting with all kinds of things and mowing whatever grows.  To build community, I just share my home grown tomatoes.  Happy gardening!

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