Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Lawn

The English lawn is so simple, and yet it takes a lot of maintenance to make it look so good. Supposedly, that was part of the point originally - the manicured lawn was more prestigious than the one nibbled by sheep or other livestock. When we moved to our current residence we inherited a gorgeous lawn that was the result of rather a lot of chemicals, and vast amounts of watering. The previous owner's liberal use of weedkillers created a monoculture that has been easy to maintain without resorting to chemicals. Despite the size of the lawn, we now dig dandelions out one by one rather than poisoning them.

We have very little topsoil - dig an inch or so down and there's nothing but sand, so it drains extremely fast and is very dry. Trying to get a nice green lawn is completely dependent on the sprinkler system, though we run it less often than the previous owner. Because of the weather, we haven't had to run the sprinklers more than a few days so far this year. (Yay! Smaller water bill!) The grass has been growing rampant, but has been too wet to mow as often as we would have liked. (Yay! Less spent on fuel for the mower!) Because of the damp, a new species has invaded the lawn that we haven't had to deal with before:

Mushrooms growing in the lawn
If I were braver, I would look this fungus up and try to determine if it's edible, because there's enough out there in the back yard for several meals, but I'm too scared I'll simply poison us all!

In the long run though, at least some of the lawn needs to go. We need a real vegetable garden. The kids are loving their garden on the front porch, but I think our choice of plants was ill-advised for container gardening! It's beginning to look like a jungle out there!

It's a jungle!


Michelloui said...

My English husband has all kinds of implements for keeping our English lawn lovely. I volunteered to do the de-thatching the other day without really knowing what he was on about. Sheesh! What a job!

On the other hand, I remember as a teenager in Minnesota pushing an old mower around my parents' lawn of up and down bumps and hillocks, a few roots, a stretch of nice grass over there and lots of pine needles over here...

Your lawn sounds lovely, and Im with you on the mushroom thing--it'd be fun to eat them but Id never be confident enough that I identified them correctly! Good luck with the veggie patch!

Carolyn said...

Great post. Aaahhh, the American lawn (agree the mushrooms = shudder, shudder and poison best solution).

To me it's such a contrast to the English garden. In the U.S. it's often about lawns - I have great memories of running and playing in 'yards' but no memories of 'gardens' really. I love the way the English love their gardens.

Cheers and enjoy your lawn!

Almost American said...

Michelle - it would take too long to dethatch our lawn! I remember helping my dad do it when I was a kid - but that lawn was a fraction of the size my current one is!

Carolyn - yes, the lawn seems to be the main feature here, along with the 'foundation plantings'. That's not to say I haven't seen some beautiful gardens in the US, but in general they are less interesting (to me at any rate) than gardens in the UK.

Expat mum said...

Well I have a city yard, full of flowers, no lawn - and hundreds of toadstools now. They are awful - slimey and probably poisonous. The best thing to do is dry them out and use them in compost.

Daffodilly said...

Your post brought back memories of my dad's lawn. We were not even allowed to walk on it. He spent hours feeding, mowing & stabbing it with a pitch fork. (If only he had known about the spiky shoes you can get over here!)

Our lawn is a mass of weeds, clover, grass, mushrooms, dandelions but we do not care! It takes 1 1/5 hours to cut it on a ride on lawn mower and it is impossible to make it look nice.
My dad would freak!

They say "An Englishmans home is his castle!"

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