This might be a little off topic in terms of pure agriculture, but I found an online article about clover being a great alternative to lawn grass too fascinating not to write about.
There is no doubt that the use of lawn grass in most front yards across North America is entirely a cultural thing, one where people simply feel they need to confirm to their neighbours with a sort of ‘collective mindset’ as to what is acceptable and appropriate.
However, that vision is changing when it comes to the familiar grass lawn.
To keep lawns shiny and bright requires many things that we are now coming to question the use of.
To start with in many climates, even here in Saskatchewan at times over the course of a summer, lawns only look green and pristine if they are watered regularly.
Increasingly we are coming to realize water is a resource that has limits, at least in terms of water that is safe to drink. When we turn on the garden sprinkler to water our lawns simply so they look the green we want to see, we use that water resource. In the grand scheme of water preservation our need for a green lawn seems a very poor use of the resource.
Society is also showing growing concern over the use of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer. Farmers are certainly aware of the growing pressure to limit the use of such products where it makes sense, because of concerns with the possible run-off to area water courses, and residue on what is being grown.
But, on a per acre basis the use of such products on our urban lawns can be far greater, after all it takes fertilizer to keep a grass lawn lush, and no one wants a yellow dandelion growing in that sea of green grass, so pour on the herbicide.
Interestingly, clover is being suggested as an alternate to grass for lawns.
The plant simply offers advantages over grass.
As a nitrogen fixinglegume, clover works symbiotically with bacteria to fix atmospheric nitrogen and make it available to both itself and neighboring plants. A 100 per cent clover lawn would reasonably need little or no fertilizer.
Clover sends downdeep roots, which allows it to find water in places grass cannot, which means in a time of drought you need turn on the sprinkler less.
Clovers suitable for lawns grow close to the ground too, which means you need to rise early in days off far less often to mow the lawn.
And, the list of benefits clover offers goes on, suggesting with a shift in our thinking, there are better things than grass in our urban yards.