Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

It's Green, but Is It Grass?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

It's Green, but Is It Grass?

Article excerpt

I am a suburbanite, so I have a lawn. Or at least I call it a lawn for lack of a better term. It is definitely a flat patch of ground covered by green stuff - lots of green stuff. Family and friends have had picnics on my lawn and even played croquet there. Most of them probably haven't even noticed that there is almost no grass in the lawn.

This was not my idea. When we moved into our house 10 years ago, the lot was upholstered with swaths of green and I just assumed that the situation would continue forever. I was wrong.

The front yard can support an abundance of grass, but being a gardener, I have slowly but surely expanded the beds and diminished the lawn area. The remaining grass is so lush and deep-rooted that grubs are afraid of it. So is the resident groundhog, which confines its snacking to certain ornamentals in the back. The neighborhood cats roll deliriously in it, and if I don't mow it at least once a week, it starts to resemble an extremely green hayfield. I have not watered the front yard since we moved into this house. The grass seems slow to succumb to drought and quick to recover from it. My neighbors, who are always spreading lime and herbicides and grub controllers, probably think that I have found some long-lost lawn- care secret. I have - it's called total neglect.

The backyard is a different story. The "grass" I saw from a distance when we were shown the house proved to be mostly broad- leafed weeds. Those weeds died off after the first season, leaving bald spots that were home to widely spaced clumps of anemic crab grass in midsummer. Even the crab grass seemed to prefer the richer soil of the garden beds.

I couldn't afford expensive sod, but I had visions of bringing in topsoil and grass seed and starting over from scratch. Fortunately, I was too busy to get to the grass seed and topsoil project. Time went by. Then, the spring after we moved in, the bare patches began receding, pushed back by a high tide of plant life. Common violets shaded the bare patches with their rapidly growing heart-shaped leaves. Ajuga, which had previously popped up here and there, suddenly popped up everywhere, spreading its chocolate-colored spring foliage and sprouting six-inch spires of blue flowers. …

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