Ann Wright: 50 ways to lose your lawn |

Ann Wright: 50 ways to lose your lawn

Butchart Gardens.
Photo by Ann Wright |

What do garden tools have to do with losing a lawn? Consider the scythe — a gnarly looking curved tool used for an eternity to cut grasses and harvest crops. History tells us that lawns were cut using hand tools, or were kept at bay by grazing sheep or cattle. With the discovery of the mechanical lawn mower in 1830, the hand scythe was less efficient, so was put away to rust in the shed. Or for use in spooky movies.

And what’s this about losing the lawn? As I sit on my porch reflecting on the events of the day, I look at the lawn below — or at least what may have been be a lawn. The moles, weeds and tree roots have taken their toll on the patch of green “lawn” in front of our house. Not to mention a couple of years of drought. Why would I consider getting rid of it? The moles love it, the dogs run and play on it, and it offers some sort-of green space between the drive way and the house. Besides, mowing the lawn is tradition. And, despite the current state of our lawn, there are some areas that deserve a second chance.

The love for lawns has grown since the late 18th century. The benefits of turf grass to the sports industry have also contributed to the value we place on the lawn. However, with concerns for ecology and efficiency, use of high-maintenance/high-water-use turf grass is gaining a new perspective. Many home gardeners now want low-growing, green grassy-looking areas in their yards on which the dogs and children can continue to play. “Lawn alternative” is now a popular concept in home landscapes. Use of water-wise and native plants has become more popular in areas of the yard that were traditionally covered with thick, weed-free and oh, so lush lawns.

The elimination of all or some of the traditional turf grass lawn is a gaining momentum; the Department of Water Resources California Turf Replacement Initiative offers rebates to home owners who replace lawns with drought-tolerant landscapes

Regardless of reasons for changing our landscapes, a beautiful lawn takes a bit of work to maintain; it takes lots of water and fertilizer. Seems logical to cut down on the amount of lawn we keep. To help make the decision to get rid of the lawn, Nevada County Master Gardeners will offer a workshop on “50 Ways To Lose Your Lawn”, Saturday, Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to noon. The workshop will focus on:

• Reasons to replace the lawn

• How to dispose of current lawns

• What to use in its place.

As for the tools we use, sharp, rust-free garden tools makes for happy gardeners — whether using the scythe, clippers or shovel. “Fear the Rust: Garden Tool Maintenance” is today’s workshop (also 10 a.m. to noon) offered by the NC Master Gardeners:

• Learn how to prepare tools for storage — avoid the rust!

• Sharpen your sharpening skills — learn how to sharpen all sorts of garden tools.

• Discuss what equipment is used to help maintain your garden tools.

Both workshops will be held at the Demonstration Garden on the NID grounds, 1036 W. Main St. in Grass Valley. For more information go to the website at or call the Hotline at 530-273-0919. Master Gardeners are in the office Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon for your home gardening questions.

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