By C.J. Crockett
As a child I spent summer days laying on the grass in the backyard, staring
up at the blue sky with not a care in the world. My biggest concern would be if a half hour after lunch had yet passed so I could continue to swim “laps” in the blow up pool. I remember picking dandelions and blowing them to the four corners of the globe with glee, rolling races down hills of grass, and grass stained knees and elbows - and the itch from it - all the memories of a time as a kid who grow up playing on grass.
Later on in life, as both an adult and a landscape professional, my views and knowledge of turf has expanded. By a lot. I came up in the landscape industry at a time were Marathon sod was king and fescue-type lawns ruled the roost. The instant perfection a green, manicured lawn oﬀers the homeowner was enticing for sure. Especially to anyone who came to California from an area where a large, green lawn is a staple.
On a recent trip to the East Coast I spent a good amount of time touring the landscapes of mansions of a time passed. Acres and acres of green lawn spread out before me at these estates. I imagined the former owners playing croquet and having staﬀ serve a picnic on the lawn, their children playing tag nearby while a nanny looked on.
Per usual, I was taking photos to keep my designing mind - and the business it shepards - remaining fresh and new. I thought to myself, this lawn, this huge expanse of seemingly perfect green perfection, this is what people are trying to attain! This is the goal! This is what people who want a lawn envision when they look out their living room window. My thoughts turned to the care of such a large swath of green.
I wanted to know and see more. I got closer to the turf areas and the imperfections started becoming apparent. Uneven swaths of deep green, bare spots here and there, low areas where water would settle. Here in a setting where they had in some cases 60 gardeners working full-time to maintain the property, the grass looked no better than the lawn that I had rolled on as a child. The weeds were rampant, spurge, clover and dandelions happily survived right alongside the annual over seeding of some undetermined type of lawn. The crabgrass had found its way in, the zoysia and nut grass too. They all lived together in a carpet of blissful green harmony. And from a distance it looked like perfection. But up close it was a hot mess.
Maybe we need to rethink our possibly obsessive lawn management and take a page from the imperfect lawns of these great ancestral homes, allow ourselves to do less fertilizing, weed and feeding and generally stressing on and about the desire for green “perfection” in our turf scape, and embrace the more natural approach like the formerly uber rich.