Although my neighbors—they of the lawn as green and manicured as a fairway at Augusta—might disagree, my lawn is looking its best right now. It’s resplendent with golden dandelions and tiny creeping charlie purple blossoms and delicate white clover flowers.
There is a reason for this: I will not put down weedkiller. All those pristine suburban lawns you see can only get that way through the prodigious use of chemicals. Pre-emergent herbicides, post-emergent poisons. General chemical carpet bombing.
Even the industry understands this isn’t good for the environment. There used to be a company called ChemLawn, back when applying toxic chemicals to green up lawns was a source of pride. ChemLawn was purchased by ServiceMaster in 1992 and rebranded as TruGreen ChemLawn, and finally just TruGreen. But the greening tactics aren’t much different today than they were then.
I like my laisse-faire lawn approach. Let nature take its course, I say. Let the dandelions be prolific. I have a special fondness for dandelions. When I was a kid we ate a lot of dandelion greens in my family. We foraged for them in parks before the flowers sprouted. My mother would put them in salads, frittatas, and stews. They were bitter (because they were so rich in iron, Mom said) and I liked them.
I’m doing more than cultivating dandelions this year. I’ve dedicated a patch of lawn to go wild: no cutting, no trimming, no nothing. My kind neighbors act casual enough about my decision, but they’re probably shaking their heads behind my back and worried about property values. Sorry, it’s just going to be that way.
We also have a wild milkweed patch that decided to grow right on the border between our two properties. Milkweed is the only place monarch butterflies will lay their eggs, and monarchs are in deep peril because of weedkillers used on farms and lawns throughout the country. We do our best to provide a monarch habitat and every year Harriet finds monarch eggs and raises them until they emerge as butterflies she then sets free.
Pretty soon this year’s dandelion season will be over. The flowers will go to seed and the seed will spread and next year I’ll have even more dandelions. Three cheers for the green and gold!