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A Different Way to Think of Lawn Care:

Now that we are beginning our Summer routines of endless yard work, here are a few things to think about. If you are picking up grass clippings after mowing your lawn, you are most likely wasting money and time. Lawn clippings hold valuable nutrients that help to fertilize your lawn. Clearing the clippings removes as much as 1/3 of the fertilizer that is needed to have healthy lawns.

I don't know about you, but I'm a coupon clipper myself. If I have a chance to save 1/3 of anything I will take it! Plus, think of the time you can save by only cutting. Spend your time with your family, rather than on your lawn.

Personally, I would rather not have to mow the lawn on a regular basis anyway. So I did some homework and found that "Clover" is making a comeback. I remember when I was a little kid I would seek out the patches of clover to walk through because they were so soft on your feet. Now that I'm an adult, I want a yard full! It's like nature's carpeting and also has the added value of serving as a corridor to wildlife to move between parks and other natural areas nearby.

The Laid-back Gardener lays out 11 benefits of planting clover instead of grass on his blog:

1. Nitrogen fixer. As a legume, clover works symbiotically with bacteria to fix atmospheric nitrogen and make it available to both itself and neighboring plants. That’s why even lawn grasses grow better when clover is present.

2. Less fertilizer. A lawn containing clover needs far less fertilizer, and a 100% clover lawn needs none.

3. Drought Resistant. With its deep roots, clover will remain green through drought, as your neighbor’s lawns turn brown.

4. No mowing. A pure clover lawn doesn’t need mowing, but if you do decide to mow, you’ll only need to do so 3 or 4 times a year.

5. No aerating. Clover can grow in and loosen compacted soil, eliminating the need to aerate.

6. No herbicide. If you’re concerned about a uniform looking patch of green, you don’t have to worry about other “weeds.” Clover tends to smother them as is somewhat invasive.

7. Ground cover. Clover makes an excellent ground-cover for food crops.

8. Beneficial pollinators and wildlife.  Clover produces attractive white flowers that attract beneficial pollinators likes bees and butterflies and provide forage for rabbits (and humans).

9. Repels pests. A lawn rich in clover tends to discourage pesky insects, most of which prefer grasses. Grubs will disappear entirely in an all-clover lawn.

10. Sun or shade. Clover grows well in both sun and partial shade.

11. Dogs can pee on it. Clover doesn’t turn yellow when dogs pee on it.

“Lawns are not stable natural habitats,” points out Mike Slater, president of the Baird Ornithological Club. “They originated as a status symbol in Europe, where only the upper class could afford to waste good cropland in nonproductive grass.”

“Unfortunately, we’ve become habituated to them, and having gas mowers, weed trimmers and leaf blowers enables us to maintain way more acreage than we could when muscle power and sheep were required to have a lawn.”

“We can all improve our yards as wildlife habitats by strategically deciding where we really want to have a lawn and how fanatical we are going to be about keeping out weeds.”

As a compromise, Slater recommends planting native wildflowers, bushes and trees around a plot of clover on the edges of your property line.

“America can no longer afford to be defined as the place with tidy green lawns,” he says. “We are facing a global extinction event for many wild animal and plant species … Let’s at least take a few baby steps and show, by our tolerance of a few clover and dandelion flowers, that our planet and the other creatures and plants we share it with are important too.”

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