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To Mow or not to Mow?

 

Why mow? That is the question I generally ask when I hear homeowners complain about having to mow large lawns, sometimes amounting to several acres. What would be wrong with just having a small area of lawn near the house and letting the rest become a meadow?

For the property owner whose main concern is maintaining the landscape there could be a number of answers and approaches, which I won’t go into here. As for me, with something resembling a lawn surrounding my house, garden and orchard area, it involves a different set of issues. My main motivation for mowing is to have a ready supply of organic matter for use as mulch or to add to my compost. I’ve also read, though, that one way to control fleas and grasshoppers is to keep things mowed, and I’ve had a lot of trouble with fleas and grasshoppers.

My usual approach has been to try to keep the areas near the garden mowed to a height where they’re not going to seed, and only mow the other areas a few times a year, mainly to keep them from becoming a jungle. But some of the weeds and grasses outsmart me by simply going to seed at a shorter height, before I can get to them. I guess they’re on an internal clock that tells them when to set seed, and height doesn’t matter. So I feel I should be mowing more often, though I can’t seem to find the time or energy for it, with all the other tasks demanding my attention during the growing season.

Since it seems like a losing battle, sometimes I wonder if I’m worrying about it too much. But here’s another angle: I’ve noticed that wherever I’ve just been mowing, the chickens and guineas are all over it, pecking away at a great rate. I suspect that cutting it down makes it easier for them to find the bugs and seeds that are in there. Possibly this could be helping with pest control. And if they’re finding more to eat, they must be eating less of the purchased feed I give them. So when I mow, maybe I’m actually saving money on feed!

I’ve also decided that if I just leave the weeds on the ground or pile them up somewhere, the seeds will eventually fall out and either get eaten or germinate right where they are, rather than blowing into the garden. So maybe it is worthwhile to try to keep after it as best I can.

Published on Nov 15, 2017

Grit Magazine

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