Our lawns are also an opportunity for health as well as beauty. And when we wanted to write about chemical-free lawn care for the Summer 2014 edition of the Dirt, our member newsletter, we knew Sustenance Design‘s Lindsey Mann would be able to give us the scoop. She and her team create ecologically supportive landscapes, and she says our lawns are a lot more than “just something that we’re looking at.”
Why do people need to change how they think about yards?
The toxic chemical inputs are the first thing that needs to go. Secondarily, we could increase biodiversity, and we could increase usefulness. Pollinator gardens and edible plants are ways to increase the usefulness of a landscape. It’s more than just something that we’re looking at, it’s something that provides therapy, that provides food. Increasing use, increasing diversity, but stopping chemical inputs is first.
How could someone cost-effectively transition to a chemical-free lawn?
They can start working with what they have, with the plants that want to grow. A lot of “weeds” in our area are actually very beautiful plants. The dandelion is edible, it’s beautiful, it’s a pollinator plant. A dandelion is a great example. People hear the word “weed” and they start freaking out.
Are they going to look weird among typical neighborhood lawns?
I think that they look beautiful. I think they look more natural. I’ve started seeing monoculture lawns as uninteresting, and almost fake. When I see a monoculture lawn, I see chemical guzzling and water guzzling. And so I think [the ecological aesthetic] looks beautiful. It’s a much more sophisticated approach.