I read an awesome article in the NYTimes today about lawn care. Seriously! The article address the cultivation of a weedy lawn. Okay, perhaps cultivation is a weak word; shall we instead say the allowance of a weedy lawn? I wouldn't even call it weedy, as weeds are merely plants that grow where you don't want them. If you give up the illusion of a perfect lawn, life becomes much easier.
The main premise is this: you can have a perfect, groomed, manicured lawn, but is it really worth the cost, both to your environment and to your bottom line? Interestingly, the author isn't even particularly concerned about herbicide exposure, even though he does state that they can be dangerous. Rather, he said he gave up lawn care because it was just too darn hard to figure out. Why should he bothered to spend all that time learning about keeping a weed-free lawn when he finds the alternative quite pretty?
I definitely agree with the author. I've drawn criticism from past neighbors, but I like things like creeping charlie and dandelions. I'd much rather have a meadow in my front yard than a big grass lawn. I'll leave the grass (and attendant mowing and care) for the local park and enjoy my pretties. I do weed mulched areas, as dandelions are not nearly as attractive there, but I'm happy to leave the "weeds" in my lawn.
The other benefit to dandelions, I'm learning, is their tastiness. At work, I teach classes in "wild edibles," and there really are a lot of yummy edible plants out there. I can make a great soup with some potatoes and onions blended together with picked wild onion, dandelion, and stinging nettle (I boil the nettle first to remove the acid that makes you sting). Without herbicides and pesticides in your lawn, you keep the water cleaner, expend less effort, and have some tasties right outside your door.
I don't care for my own lawn right now (benefit of apartment living!), but I'm looking forward to leaving my grass a little longer and enjoying the color of the "weeds."
What about you? What wild plants do you love? Have you ever let your lawn just grow out?