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To mow or not to mow
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Mary Scipioni
By Mary Scipioni
April 23, 2012 12:01 a.m.

Now that it’s time to start lawn-mowing regimes, maybe we should take a minute to scrutinize this practice.

Everyone loves a green, well-groomed lawn. But have you ever considered that lawns are energy consuming, polluting and biologically sterile landscapes? Mowing them consumes time and gas. Chemicals like fertilizer, weed killers and pesticides can run off with stormwater and pollute our streams.

Perhaps we should start thinking about converting our lawns, at least partially, into areas that are more biologically rich. Meadows are an interesting alternative. Landscapes composed of tall perennials including grasses, forbs, and wildflowers provide habitat for pollinating insects and songbirds. They have become increasingly rare.

We like others to keep their lawns tidy, because it makes our street look respectable. To discover how we might overcome our neighbor’s qualms about these less orderly landscape types, Joan Iverson Nassauer, a professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Michigan, conducted a study. She found that when we create a clear form and edge, or frame, it shows that our meadow landscape is intentional and maintained. So, think about dedicating some of your land to meadow planting. Maybe you and your neighbors can join forces to create a continuous swath for your families to enjoy. Then you can spend that mowing time watching your kids chase after fireflies.

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