I was pruning the lawn on Tuesday night (aka mowing) and as usual I spent that time contemplating my yard and garden. It's a nice time to relax and observe places in your yard that you may not go to frequently for various reasons. Think about it, when you are riding around on your lawnmower you end up seeing almost every possible vantage point of your yard. You see the lawn for all its wonderful weeds and wildflowers (the two are sometimes synonymous). You see around your garden beds, whether they are they vegetable or flowering. You observe the work that needs done in those beds and have time to consider you massive to-do list. You tour around the trees and watch the birds flit about. If you don't need a riding mower you may even see more, that is if your not huffing and puffing due to the strenuous exercise. It is good exercise, I promise!
I use two mowers, one a riding mower and the other a push mower. I usually start with the push mower and depending on what I need to do I do one of two things. I either leave the bagger attachment to the mower or I don't. I hope you weren't looking for some monumental groundbreaking mowing strategy! Still, there is a little strategy involved. When I want to collect the grass clippings I attach the bagger, when I don't need clippings I leave the bagger off and let the mower mulch. Shocking logic right? Now what do I do with the clippings? The easy answer is to add them to the compost bin. It's a great way build up that compost quickly. Another possible answer would be to put them as a base layer in my semi-lasagna garden beds. I did this for my raised bed vegetable garden over the last two mowings and filled about 2 inches of each bed with clippings. Before the clippings I put thick layers of newspaper down over the existing grass and then covered it with the grass clippings. They will have time over the next several days to dry out and begin to smother the original grass beneath the beds. I hope to fill them with actual soil this weekend. I'll layer more newspapers over the grass clippings and cover that with dirt. The term lasagna garden seems a bit off for this since I am only doing a few layers (newspaper, grass clippings, newspaper compost, and topsoil), perhaps another name like a pizza garden would be better, or a stromboli/calzone? Mmmm, I think I must be hungry.
The other thing I do with the clippings is cover barren spots in my turf. I figure that these spots aren't covered with luscious green growing grass because the soil just isn't very good. By adding grass clippings as humus they decompose which improves the soil and maybe, just maybe something will grow. It worked well for me last year. I large swath of grassless area in the front yard is now completely covered as a result of the cover of clippings and a fall overseeding of fescue. Our soil in that area is pretty much clay and any organic material that enters it will improve it!
While pruning the grass I attempted to scout the slope of our yard. I began going up the hill with the push mower. I left the bag detached since I did not want to collect weed seeds. I found that the weeds fell fairly easily despite the difficulties with the slope. It is very steep for someone with a little push mower. Once I had carved out a small path and could see the land better I realized that I could get the riding lawnmower up the hill and turn around. Toward the middle of this area the grade of the slope lessens enough to make turning around safe. I only cut a small amount down from the hill since I had the rest of my yard to do, but this scouting encourages me that this territory will not be unassailable.
While looking at my yard from every possible vantage point I realized that I need to go back over my to-do list. Sadly many of those things have remained unfinished, but since spring and better weather are here it's time to get going again in the garden!
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Thursday, March 27, 2008
Thoughts While Pruning the Lawn
Dave is the author of Growing The Home Garden and runs a small nursery business growing vegetables and herbs for local customers in Spring Hill, TN. (Blue Shed Gardens or FB page). He has written for gardening publications, Troy-Bilt and Lowe's and is available for edible garden consulting. Dave gardens organically and when he isn't writing, collecting seeds, or propagating plants he's parenting his 4 children as a stay at home dad.