Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Our own Freedom Lawn

Freedom lawn in the courtyard of A-21. We had been enjoying the violets and dandelions for over a week when I finally went out to photograph the scene. As it turned out, I got there just two hours before the grounds crew came through with the mower.

Freedom lawn is a term coined by faculty at our own Yale School of Forestry nearly two decades ago. In their 1993 book, Redesigning the American Lawn: a search for environmental harmony, Herbert Bormann, Diana Balmori and Gordon Geballe proposed the concept of the freedom lawn. Their basic idea was to promote cultivation of lawns to allow natural and unrestricted growth of grasses, clover, wild flowers and other broad-leafed plants often regarded as weeds. This in turn reduces the need for application of chemical treatments.

Towns throughout Connecticut have picked up the idea of the freedom lawn and encourage residents through friendly competitions to establish their own. The highest priority is the effort to protect water supplies from ground-water pollutants common in lawn and garden run-off. Other environmental considerations are a reduction in air and noise pollution from excessive mowing, and finally for the homeowners themselves, a practical cost-savings in time and money.

The 1993 first edition of Redesigning the American Lawn has been supplanted by a 2001 second edition. Now, ten years later, when you look around at our suburban landscape, what do you see?

I'm afraid I still see an awful lot of truturfchemgreenlawn trucks. But I always cheer for the violets, dandelions and sorrel - and hey, you know what - those three all make great additions to a spring salad! Make sure there has been no pesticide use before you harvest...

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