SUMMER’S HERE — CUE the lawnmower. Not to get too gender-specific, but let’s face it: A “Dad lawn” is a thing — tidy, tended and fawned over in a never-ending cycle of watering, feeding and mowing.
Unfortunately, dubious weed-and-feed chemicals produce a toxic carpet that’s a danger to children, pets and anyone who loves to loll about on a cushy sward. Eco-conscious gardeners brandish summer-brown turf, but a dry, prickly surface isn’t nearly as much fun to frolic on.
An “ecology lawn,” a seed mix combining flowers and herbs with resilient grasses, offers an Earth-friendly alternative to conventional resource-guzzling turf. Now lawn warriors, families and nature lovers alike can enjoy a lush green oasis with ease and peace of mind.
Oregon-based Pro Time Lawn Seed offers a variety of eco-lawn seed mixes specially designed for Pacific Northwest yards. In addition to a variety of tall fescue and ornamental flowering annuals and perennials, mixes include clover that naturally fixes soil nitrogen, making additional fertilizer unnecessary. Once established, ecology lawns stay green even during our region’s typically long, dry summer.
“We work closely with seed scientists at Oregon State University to source improved varieties and the latest genetics, selected for drought-tolerance and disease-resistance,” says Dawn Griffin, one of four women who purchased the long-established company a little more than five years ago. “All of our seed is non-GMO and neonicotinoid-free. We’re focused on providing Earth-friendly products that create species-diverse green spaces that require fewer inputs. And planting a lawn from seed is a cost-effective solution for folks on a budget.”
Seattle garden designer Jason Jorgensen loves the look and ease of Fleur de Lawn Blanche®, an all-white flowering mix containing clover, yarrow, sweet alyssum and English daisies, which he seeded in the spring of 2018. Depending on moisture — rain or irrigation — and resulting growth, Jorgensen mows only every two to three weeks. “I typically let it be,” he says. “No fuss, no muss. I use my push mower on the highest setting — I actually prefer a shaggy look.” But don’t let that delicate meadow look fool you; this mix is tough. Jorgensen’s dogs, Coco and Stock, love racing in circles around his water feature in the backyard. “The flowering lawn hasn’t skipped a beat,” he says. “I recommend it to my clients and have heard nothing but positive feedback.”
Designer Naomi Goodman is a recent ecology-lawn convert who installed Fleur de Lawn® late last summer, broadcasting seed by hand over well-prepped but unamended bare soil. Goodman was diligent about watering, applying brief five-to-10-minute sprinkler sessions morning and night until seed germinated, then once a day until fall rains returned. Flowering began in early fall and continued well into December.
“It’s fun and pretty!” Goodman enthuses. (Who says that about a lawn?) “Why fight clover? It’s great for bees and other pollinators, and it’s good for the soil,” she adds. Goodman also extols the affordability of seeding a lawn versus laying turf, and looks forward to lower water bills.
True confession: I don’t have a lawn. When it comes to the care and feeding of my garden, my ornamental plants and berries win out over lawncare every time. But all that’s about to change. This time next year, I’ll be deep in clover, lazing about on my magic carpet-size flowering lawn.