While the scent of freshly cut grass has little rivalry in the spring and summer months, there's no denying that lawn upkeep can wreck havoc on the environment (and your weekend!). Even though these alternatives may still require a mowing once or twice a season, they aren't nearly as high-maintenance as the standard choice. By cultivating these grass varieties that require minimal attention, you can save time, money, and natural resources without giving up the look of a lush landscape.
If you live in the Northern United States, one of the best options for no-mow grass is called Creeping Bentgrass (Agrostis). It grows to a maximum height of six inches by creeping along stolons (a fancy name for a stem that takes root at points along the length horizontally). It has a soft feel and grows well in both sunny or shady areas. This type of grass is used in many athletic fields and golf courses in the Northern states--so you know it will stand up to kids and dogs!
A good grass for Southern states is a mixture of Fescue (Poaceae) and Buffalo Grass (Bouteloua dactyloides). It grows a little more virulently than Creeping Bent Grass, and if not mowed once or twice during season will lay down and look like a meadow rather than a lawn. Read labels well, because Fescue also comes in a tall variety. The Buffalo Grass part of the mixture adds a little blue-green effect to your lawn and is also native to the United States, so it naturally requires low amounts of water. The combination of the two varieties makes for a great lawn.
For the Upper Midwest and Northeast areas, a blend of 5 or 6 varieties of Fine Fescue is recommended, including Creeping Red (Festuca rubra), Hard Fescue (Festuca longifolia), Chewing's fescue (Festuca rubra subsp. commutata), and Sheep Fescue (Festuca ovina). These grasses are greenish gray to dark green in color. The blades are narrow, but grow in bunches, which is good for controlling areas that are in danger of eroding.
Advantages: Save Time, Money, and the Environment
No-mow lawns have many advantages both to our ecology and our personal livelihoods. The obvious advantage for the DIYer is that they save us time and effort since we no longer have to maintain a weekly mowing schedule, which can vary from 20 minutes to a couple hours depending on the expanse of your lawn. Think about this: The average person cuts their lawn once a week during a warm weather season. If a season is about 5 months long, you may have cut your grass 20 times during that time span. With no-mow grass you can cut mowing down to once or twice a season. Once established, there is little to no weeding involved with no-mow grasses -- also a time-saver. And, think about how many times you ran to town to get gas to fill up the mower, which is also a time expense, and any time required for machine upkeep.
Money-wise, think about the initial cost of a mower, the cost for gas to run it, and the cost for potential mower repairs. In a typical warm season, the average DIYer will use 20 gallons of gas for their mower. Also, most no-mow grasses need less watering and less fertilizer as well, both costs of which can add up quickly.
Speaking to the advantages to the ecology, carbon emissions from the mower are cut down drastically when you only have to mow your lawn once a month or even more infrequently. And with less watering required, you are saving saving precious natural resources.
The Best Time to Plant
The best time to plant any grass is in the fall. A good four inches of loose topsoil works the best for new seed. For most of the grasses mentioned, you will need about five pounds of seed for every 1,000 square feet, or 200 pounds per acre. Read the package carefully; the spreader you purchase makes a big difference in laying the seed down correctly.
Keep your seed moist even if it requires more than one watering per day. Once it's established, you will rarely need to water. You should see the seed start to grow within about two weeks. Whatever you do, don’t try to mow it for at least two months. The roots are very tender during this period and could be pulled out of the ground.
A Few Things to Remember:
- All grasses, if left uncut, will go to seed.
- Fescue grass pollen is a known cause of hay fever.
Now that you know how much time and money no-mow grass can save, you might have to be satisfied with smelling the neighbor’s fresh cut grass instead of your own.