This is no good for your grass. Overcutting it leaves it weak and underdeveloped. The only way to get grass like that to look incredible is to use artificial chemicals, toxic fertilizers and poisonous pesticides. Plus you have to water the grass all the time simply because its been cultivated to have shallow roots.
The chemicals we use are designed to feed those shallow roots, and the above ground sprinklers we use make the situation worse. What starts as an effort to have a beautifully maintained yard turns into a cycle of ill-fated actions that overtime become the only route you can take if you want to keep up with the Jones. Lawn envy strikes again!
When I help homeowners detox their yards, I usually don’t suggest they cut their lawns less, because I know that many people, like me, suffer from lawn envy too. At a recent event where I was talking to a community group about sustainable yards, I suggested to the audience to only cutting their grass once every two & half to three weeks. They gasped! Literally! When I told them it’s not that bad, and that I do it with my own lawn, someone asked if the town fined me for such an act of disobedience. Another person asked if my neighbors send me hate mail.
Composting and aerating are much easier for people to start detoxing their yards, and any start is a good start. But reducing the number of times you cut your lawn is the crème de la crème of detox treatments. Nearly all unsustainable lawn care practices flow from mowing too much.
The truth is that I only let my grass grow for three weeks once or twice a summer. It doesn’t get much taller than 3 to 4 inches. I think it has a kinda retro-1970’s shag carpeting look to it. I always want to get a disco ball and have a dance party in my front yard ;).
If you let your grass grow, it does amazing things. As the roots grow deeper, you won’t have to water it as much or at all, as long as you have the correct species for your yard’s microclimate. Deeper roots are like a spa treatment for the soil. They open up the dirt and let fresh, oxygenated air in. You won’t need toxic chemicals to make it beautiful and green. It’ll grow lush and thick and incredible without adding anything.
There’s an economic side to this too. If you cut your grass less, you spend less on landscaping services. Cutting your grass once every two weeks would mean a 50% savings every year. That savings can be reinvested for more sustainable measures like composting the lawn or buy native flowers to plant. Or you can build a rain garden, start a vegetable garden, save up for that new fence you need, or get the outdoor furniture you’ve want. The point is that cutting your grass less is a win/win when compared to cutting it too much – it makes Mother Nature happy, and it makes your bank account happy too!
Of course, there is that pesky unresolved childhood issue of lawn envy. What to do about that? Well, maybe its time we make sustainable yards en vogue. The truth is that all those manicured, lime-green, over-fertilized, poisonous lawns are more akin to an active heroin addict than a healthy role model. So, unless you find the life of a drug addict appealing, there’s no reason to be envious. They are literally making their families sick.
Take the Yard Detox Challenge. Make your yard the envy of your neighbors by making it more beautiful, safe, healthy and alive than anything artificial additives can do. This summer, before you yell at your kid to go cut the grass…consider instead kicking off your shoes, getting a nice, cold drink and watch the grass grow...for at least 2 and a half weeks.