Dandelions Are Welcome

>> Thursday, April 22, 2010

My bloggy friend Jenn from It's Not Easy Being Green and the Green Phone Booth often writes posts linking to a recent article she's read and then adding her own thoughts on the subject. She has a knack for finding really interesting posts and articles from all over the web and must read every newspaper published. I, on the other hand, can't motivate myself to read any news sites beyond the New York Times and Grist, so it's a good thing she keeps me informed (and it doesn't hurt that she's hilarious).

In the spirit of Jenn's blog...I read The Dandelion King yesterday on, of course, the New York Times, and I couldn't resist sharing it with you. The gist of the article is that the author's yard is overrun with that suburban nemesis, dandelions. And he doesn't care. In fact, he's let it get that way on purpose by choosing not to apply chemicals to his lawn and then being too lazy to dig out the dandelions and weeds by hand.

Isn't it ugly? Doesn't it reduce property values? The author says that we might think that now, but maybe in the future we will "engineer a new ethos that allows us to fight chemical negative externalities without creating aesthetic and hence financial ones. Maybe someday suburban neighborhoods will consist of lawns that look like mine, and everyone will admire them."

The first step is for you to look at your neighborhood anew. Next time you see an unblemished expanse of grass, think about the chemicals that probably got dumped in your vicinity to create it. Are you grateful for that?

And next time you see a yardful of sprouting dandelions, note that they look remarkably like things we call “flowers.” And later, when the flowers turn into fluff balls, look closely at one of those fluff balls and ask yourself whether it’s really so unattractive. Meanwhile, absorb the fact that the lawn you’re looking at is doing nothing to harm pets, toddlers or people in general.

Wouldn’t you like to live next to a yard like that? How much would that be worth to you?

As I read this article, I couldn't help but nod along. Yes, yes, yes! You see, this is my backyard:

Because it was so wet and muddy all winter here in North Carolina, and we kept walking through the wet and the mud, all of the grass in my backyard died over the winter and was replaced with clover and wild strawberries. At the beginning of spring when the clover and strawberry flowers were in bloom, it was gorgeous. A field of purple and blue in my own backyard. And the wildlife! Bees and butterflies and birds galore!

Don't kids need a velvet carpet of grass to play on? I say no! Last summer when we had grass, I had to force my kids to play in the backyard. There wasn't anything to do back there. But now there are flowers to pick and bugs to find and holes to dig. Plus, we're lucky to have a fabulous park just around the corner with a playground, basketball courts, and grassy lawn for playing soccer, so we can use our backyard for other things.

I have to admit that we've let it get a little out of control. It could use a good mowing. And some grass seed. But someday I'd love to have a certified wildlife garden in my backyard using the National Wildlife Federation's guide and lots of native plants.

Green grass that no one can walk on? Not for me! Dandelions are welcome here.


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Kellie April 22, 2010 at 2:13 PM  

Ours are popping up as well. I've started having green smoothies for breakfast and was thinking of using the dandelion leaves as the green part. I'll let you know how it goes!

Erin aka Conscious Shopper April 23, 2010 at 10:12 AM  

@Kellie - Yes, definitely let me know how it goes!

Jenn the Greenmom April 23, 2010 at 12:41 PM  

Hey, thanks for the shout!(I actually don't read THAT much; I have a fairly huge Google Reader list which i go through whenever I have the chance and bookmark stuff that looks interesting...) I love dandelions--and creeping charlie, and clover, and so many of the things that get purged out of "nice" lawns. And I totally get what you're saying, though I never noticed it before--we got this house with a nice backyard, as in nice boring grass, and the kids never want to play in it. Hmm...maybe time to mix it up a bit!

I've heard that in England, Roman Chamomile is grown and spreads like grass and can be walked on and mowed and everything...except that it grows these sweet-smelling daisy-like flowers you can then make tea out of. :-)

Robbie April 23, 2010 at 10:12 PM  

Hey Erin, ours are going nuts as well. And I'm watching all of our neighbors with their chemlawn or whatever coming by... But I will say this: Nothing is more beautiful than a bunch of freshly picked dandilions in your little one's hands!

Shona~ LALA dex press April 24, 2010 at 8:40 AM  

We are having a grass vs. clover debate at my house. There are some spots that need re-seeding + my hand is raised for clover.

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