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The Pollinator Bulletin Board: Pollinator-Friendly Lawn Care

From the BeeMonitoring listserv:

From: Sam Droege, 4 February 2009:

First let's start with the question:

If "Chem Lawn" was not called "Chem Lawn" but was rather called the equally valid name "Poison Lawn" would they still be in business?


If your "Weedy Lawn" were called a "Pollinator Lawn" would your neighborhood association still complain about you or would you get an award instead?

What if, as Peter and others mentioned, you took the English approach and planted violets, chickweed, daisies, henbit, mints, clovers, spring beauties, geraniums, hawkweeds, krigia, etc.; you then mowed every 2 weeks instead of every week this thing you called used to call grass but now call Pollinator Lawn.

What if, instead of a little sign that says:

"Keep off, dangerous chemicals applied"

You had a little sign that said:

"Registered National Pollinator Lawn Number 8,450"

Wouldn't you be playing an inclusive game by creating a sanctioned pollinator lawn?....

rather than being exclusive when you decide NOT to use herbicides and letting weeds grow in your lawn? You then explain to your neighbors that you are NOT using herbicides when they come to help you get rid of those weeds, they then think that you think they are bad people which causes them to think you are some sort of cry baby intellectual and will then delight in pushing back...und so weiter.

From Jim Cane, 4 February, 2009:

Folks- I agree with lawn diversification, and indeed, I selectively allow various forbs to grow in our manually mowed lawn (white clover, violets, oregano), hand-weeding the ones like bindweed that become nasty in the adjoining flower and vegetable gardens. I do need lawn, because we have two rambunctious dogs who tear around a lot. Hence, lawns have their place. I can’t find the early article I sought in the magazine quoted below, but I recollect that it stated that ALL lawns had clovers and other components until the era of cheap herbicides that selectively kill broad-leaved plants. That commenced the Weed and Feed era, out went the legumes, in came the need for supplemental nitrogen that the clovers used to supply. The clovers also root more deeply, moving organic matter deeper and improving soil tilth and water penetration, all of which makes a healthier lawn. And as Liz has noted, some of those forbs can feed one or another bee. I especially wonder why such things are not done for the expansive unused lawns around big boxy buildings in office parks. Down in the Southeast, crimson clover can play a similar beneficial role for Bombus where it is seeded or allowed to grow, and its bloom en masse makes a dramatic roadside to behold.

From the National Gardening magazine web site: “Dr. Reed Funk, turf breeder at Rutgers University in New Jersey, says that Kentucky bluegrass has gotten a bad rap as a high-maintenance turf grass. "I grew up in the intermountain West," he says, "and I remember lots of Kentucky bluegrass and clover lawns that were never fertilized, and they looked fine." Clover was a key component. Now scorned as a turf weed, that legume was once considered an important part of a low-maintenance turf mix because of its ability to add nitrogen to the soil. Some turf experts are recommending that clover be added to low-maintenance seed mixes again.”

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