Farewell to the green lawns of previous years – Loveland Reporter-Herald


It’s time for me to say goodbye to part of the American dream.

A part that I love. A slice of sweet memories.

The lush green lawn.

During the summers of my childhood, the soft grass was a paradise for cartwheels, hand presses and racing through sprinklers.

My parents and neighbors relaxed in Adirondack chairs outside our house on warm evenings – wondering if the Dodgers would win the Pennant.

In the suburbs, lawns that run from house to house provide a sense of community – of connection.

As newlyweds, Bill and I lived on the third floor of a tall building. We could see the street below from our small kitchen table.

Cars and apartment buildings – lining our street – were our vantage point. Not a patch of greenery!

I wanted to get out and dig my toes into the fresh grass. I couldn’t wait until we had our own house with a big green lawn.

Bill had a different view of lawns. He grew up in a house built in the early 1900s – when houses were located near the street.

Mountains and forests were his playgrounds.

I finally got my wish. In 1968 we built our house and sowed grass seed on the ground where fields, wildflowers and pollinators had once called home.

Bill would have been happier living in the nearby mountains or foothills, but with three young children and a fourth on the way, I wanted to live in town – close to schools, church, doctors’ offices and shops.

Our newly sown grass was in its infancy – so the first summer it didn’t need much tending – but neighbors with established lawns were actively tending their yards.

“You’re ruining my day,” Bill joked to one of our neighbors. “It depresses me to see you spending Saturday mowing your lawn.”

It may have taken a while, but the light bulb in my head finally turned on. Bill was not a lawn lover.

Bill didn’t see the point of spending hours every weekend mowing, weeding, fertilizing and trimming a lawn.

He was right.

Lawns are the largest cultivated crop in the United States. They do not produce food and consume large amounts of water.

“In the drylands of the United States, three-quarters of annual household water use is for lawns,” according to a article in Scientific American.

The current mega-drought in western states suggests that we need to conserve water.

Although the easiest solution may seem to be to replace lawns with rock, this can trade one problem for another.

Rocks absorb and reflect heat and can produce warmer air if they spread near houses – something we don’t want in hot weather. They also do not attract pollinators.

The weeds eventually become embedded in the landscape rock and are difficult to eliminate.

Planting native, drought-tolerant plants seems to be the best solution.

According to CBS News, “In Las Vegas, one square foot of grass can consume 73 gallons of water each year. Replacing that grass with native plants and landscaping can reduce that to 18 gallons or less.

While Las Vegas receives less rainfall than the Front Range, we can learn from their turf replacement experience.

What happens in Vegas doesn’t have to stay in Vegas.

I’m new to anything lawn or plant related, but I’ve been chipping away at my lawn for a few years – replacing grass with plants.

Although the plants continue to take in water and work, my water bill is gradually decreasing.

Colorado has a turf replacement program — “money for grass” — which can help defray some of the cost of replacing part of your lawn.

Readers, are you ready to replace the lawn with drought resistant plants?

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