Susan Harris
All about gardening the eco-friendly way, by Susan Harris and 22 other garden writers and experts.

Lawn Reform Update/1st Newsletter

June 22, 2010 · 4 comments

Big news from the Lawn Reform Coalition!

First, we have a Facebook Page – please “Like” it to follow news of the hottest issue in gardening today!   True, we initially set up a Group on Facebook but as many users have discovered, Pages are better for campaigns like this one, so we’ll be asking Groupies to move on over to the page.

And to keep even MORE folks up to date about lawn-related happenings – even people who are Facebook-averse – we also have a newsletter we’ll be publishing at least quarterly, and you can sign up right here.

Lawn Reform Newsletter


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Now while we’re collecting subscribers for our first e-newsletter to be sent in September, here’s the sort of news we’ll be stuffing into our newsletters, and of course updating to our Facebook page.

Saxon Holt Joins UsSaxon

Welcome, Saxon!  Here’s why we thought he’d be a valuable partner in this campaign, from our About pageSaxon Holt is a professional garden photographer whose images are well recognized  in hundreds of magazine and book credits. In his work he seeks to change the aesthetic of what we expect to see in a garden photograph so that the media portrays authentic and sustainable gardens. ”The American Meadow Garden” and his two most previous books, Hardy Succulents, and Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates, were all awarded prizes by the Garden Writers of America as “outstanding books”. He owns the stock photography library PhotoBotanic and blogs regularly at Gardening Gone Wild.

Coalition Members doing Lawn Work

  • Evelyn Hadden and Saxon Holt have contracted with Timber Press to write and photograph the upcoming Lose Your Lawn.   We can’t wait to see it.
  • Paul Tukey sends us this news of SafeLawns.org:  “The film, A Chemical Reaction, has now been shown in more than 150 locations and we’re working on distribution on Netflix and Amazon.  We are hosting SafeLawns Organics Night Sept. 10 at GWA in Dallas: a reception that will include a screening of the film, a moderated panel and drinks etc.  We’re developing a children’s book about lawns.  We’re celebrating the one-year anniversary of our blog, and there’s a project too big to even talk about yet, but it will be the BIGGEST thing I’ve ever done in my career”.  Okay, we’re curious.
  • Tom Christopher has also been busy working to reform the American Lawn.  He edited a book for Timber Press about sustainable gardening which will be published next spring.  It includes a chapter about lawn alternatives by John Greenlee and an introduction to no-mow lawns by Neil Diboll.   Tom’s been working with fine fescues himself, planting a couple of lawns for friends and neighbors and a demonstration plot at his town hall, and will be reporting his findings soon.
  • Tom Engleman writes:  “The Grass Roots Program has just now launched on a grant study with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. We are comparing Tall Fescue, Bermuda Grass and Buffalograss lawns using various irrigation practices. The study runs for 1 year — after which we are hearing that MWD will likely recommend and adopt widespread change for traditional lawns in their HUGE service area!! Moreover, other Western water supplies will likely follow MWD’s lead on such innovation.  
    When the study is completed next summer, I’ll pass on our conclusions and MWD recommendations. “  Good work, Tom!
  • Susan Morrison is leading workshops as part of a statewide California Master Gardener public outreach program that teaches actionable, sustainable gardening practices, including the benefits of reducing turfgrass.  Susan tells us that “in California, many gardeners understand the need to conserve water, but they’re shocked to learn that run-off from irrigated lawns often contains fertilizers and pesticides that flow directly into local watersheds.  We’re so used to pointing the finger at corporations, we don’t realize that we homeowners are a bigger source of water pollution.”
  • And I (Susan Harris, if this link makes the rounds), posted a video about the mosaic of groundcovers that replaced my front lawn.  My ex-lawns, both front and back, were recently photographed by Saxon Holt for Lose Your Lawn. And I’ve been invited to join the Lawn for Pollinators Task Force of the North American Pollinator Campaign when they meet in D.C. this fall.   More conspiring for the cause!

Lawn Reform Coalition in the Media

The Anti-Lawn Message

Balanced Reports of Lawn Problems

On the Legislative Front

  • Natural lawncare advocates are celebrating the signing of a tough anti-pesticide bill by New York Governor David Paterson. The Child Safe Playing Fields Act, which bans the use of chemical pesticides on school playing fields and playgrounds, is being called “historic” by our Paul Tukey.

Nice Examples of Alternatives

  • Gardening Gone Wild tackled groundcovers, and here’s their roundup of blog posts on the subject.   Great stuff!
  • Designer Rochelle Greayer showed us a lovely front yard in Seattle.
  • One blogger wrote to tell he he’s “the caretaker of what is apparently the first homeowner buffalo grass lawn in Phoenix – it’s the new variety UC Verde, with its exceptional heat tolerance and modest water needs).   He blogged about the entire process and reports that “even as a startup lawn it was using less water starting plugs than established Bermuda grass takes.”
  • Paul Tukey is featuring a different groundcover (and alternative lawn) every Wednesdays, starting with lemon thyme and Goldmoss sedum.

Research Findings

New Resources

{ 3 comments }

1 Billy Goodnick June 22, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Susan: You’re such a workhorse (figuratively speaking, of course)! Thanks for keeping the Lawn Reform message in the minds of so many people.

2 SS June 23, 2010 at 8:52 am

I’m relplacing my lawn with Herniarnia Glabra and Sedum Acre. Both are tough, drought tolerant and no-mow. Heading into the first hot Cal. summer and hoping for success. So far so good.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to upcoming issues of the newsletter for more lawn replacement ideas!

3 Tara Dillard June 23, 2010 at 10:04 am

Tara Turf, used for almost 2 decades. A mix of what blows in, moss, clover, groundcovers of choice, dwarf daffodils.

Mown twice each year. Paths & play zones mown 1-2/month or less.

Zero watering, zero fertilizing, zero pesticides, zero pre-emergents, zero fungicides, pollinator friendly. Used for centuries throughout Europe. This isn’t rocket science.

Tara Turf is illegal in most neighborhoods with HOA’s.

Mow-blow-go companies, aka, Testosterone on Wheels, take their revenue from traditional lawn care. Why would they promote Tara Turf?

When I lecture nationally Tara Turf is well received. Lecturing at local garden clubs, mostly women, few show interest. Comments? “My husband would never let me do that.” And of course the HOA situation, again.

Interesting to watch Tara Turf (nature taking its course with fabulous design help) become monetized.

Hope some of the studies about lawns include the bacteria from plants/soil that is part of the rain cycle. Traditional lawns kill those bacteria.

Note: I used to have a “You can’t do that.” husband. Ha, that was decades ago. Now he thinks it’s all his idea. Haven’t had a lawn in over a decade.

Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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