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April 26th, 2011

The Antisocial Weed

doug

Unlike some eco-minded gardeners, I’m not anti-lawn. In my yard, lawn forms the pathways among the garden beds and provides a place to set chairs when friends drop by. From a design perspective, it’s a calm counterpoint to the jumble of flowers and foliage in the beds.

To serve these purposes, the lawn doesn’t need to be pristine and weed-free, and it isn’t. In my opinion, if it’s green and ground-blanketing, it qualifies as lawn. Among the blades of bluegrass you’ll see plantain, chickweed, henbit, creeping charlie, and oxalis. There’s plenty of white clover, too—my gift to the neighborhood rabbits.

There’s one weed, however, that doesn’t qualify for my inclusionary policy: dandelions. The other lawn weeds don’t stray far, but dandelions send their seeds flying far and wide on the wind. They’d eagerly colonize the neighborhood if I let them.

So, out of courtesy to my neighbors, for whom a tidy lawn is everything, I hand-dig the dandelions before they can go to seed. Yesterday, a glorious spring day in Emmaus, that’s what I did after work: I removed each yellow-flowered offender, leaving a lawn that still fits my desire for diversity while respecting my neighbors’ pursuit of perfection.  —Doug Hall

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