Love-lawn

When we moved into Chez Snail, the back garden simply consisted of a lawn, a patio and a paved path, There were literally no plants other than the grass in the lawn. A bit of investigation revealed that there was also almost no soil, and after the first heavy rain we discovered that the water from the field behind rapidly flowed, river-like, into our garden, formed a lake and then progressed into next door’s garden. Our solution was planting and soil-building – a willow hedge, raised beds, composting. We whittled away at the lawn until, eventually, there was none left, although we did keep part of the patio so that we could sit outdoors. Then, six years ago, we had the limery built and our outdoor seating space was greatly reduced. We managed and it didn’t seem like much of an issue until covid and the need for space outside in which to socialise.

So, earlier this year, and setting aside my reticence about lawns**, we made some changes to our garden. Mr Snail removed two of the long thin raised beds from just outside the back door, and created a single deeper bed on the far side of the garden. We levelled the former site of the beds (well, sort of) and I ordered some turf becuase that seemed like the quickest way to establish our new grassy patch. We didn’t return the area back to it’s original level, but retained about six inches of our homemade soil on top of the original ground level, surrounded by the bottom layer of old railway sleepers that had formed the raised beds. Ten days of excluding the dogs, and we had achieved our aim.

In fact, we don’t intend to have a pristine grassy patch – we’ll let the wild flowers grow and Mr Snail will be scything it when necessary. Around the edges I am planning to seed some native wild flowers. The soil will act as a reservoir for some of the excess water when there is heavy rain and the grass is cool for feet and paws (unlike flag stones) when the weather is hot. It’s been in place for a couple of months now and has been well-used… it’s even hot enough at the moment to have dinner out there in the evenings.

-oOo-

** “A lawn is nature under a totalitarian regime”

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15 Comments

  1. scything.
    Why does this make me think of Poldark, I wonder 😀

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  2. love the new outdoors – wish I owned this place – I would definitely sort out the back garden – it may not have a “instant pond” but it’s definitely not flat…

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  3. Looks good. Somewhere nice for the deck chairs to go too!

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  4. Lawns are also pointless, non-productive monoculture, but as you say, in scorching hot weather they are cool under foot and do not reflect heat back at the house like a paved area does. I’m not altogether sure how big this area is and how high the raised bed wall are, but a scythe might be overkill (I used one in my back paddock in NSW), due to lack of swing-space. Maybe a sickle? You’ll soon enough see, I guess! The Husband likes our lawns (it’s a very Anglo-Saxon obsession, whether northern or southern hemisphere), but I’d rather give the place over to tall tropical planting and smaller understory, with paths weaving through made of bark chips. It’ll never happen; my vision isn’t shared and I don’t have the strength to do it alone. So lawns it is…

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    • It’s only 3m x 3m, but Mr Snail has a small blade for his scythe that is just perfect and allows him to cut it in about 10 minutes. I really don’t like the non-productivity of a lawn but have come to realise that the other functions are very important to us, plus we can ensure there is food for pollinators as an additional benefit. In fact, the rearrangement has barely reduced our productive space, since there were already paths between the beds and the new larger bed allows a bit more versatile use of what we have.

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      • Ah… my scythe blade was nearly a metre long. I had worrying visions… Now that it’s too late, I have to ask: did you consider a camomile lawn? Smells lovely to walk on, low-mow and is also productive if you happen to like camomile tea (which I do!)

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        • Sadly not suitable for active pups… nice idea, though. Yes, Mr Snail also has a big blade for his scythe for when he goes and does meadows.

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          • 😀 One man and his dog, woof woof. I bet Daisy would take one look at him with his scythe and go “Me? Go to the meadow to watch you mow? Not a chance, buster, I’ll stay here with Mum”

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  5. I’m not keen on lawns myself. I left the small one in the front garden because it’s pretty small (most of the space is trees and beds) but had the grass at the back removed a couple of years ago. It’s all stone paths and beds out there now, and I absolutely love it.

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