I vowed that if I ever received such a letter, I would rip out the lawn and seed in shortgrass prairie -- little bluestem, sideoats grama, and buffalo grass. My best guess is that the guy across the street, who mows 3 times per week, waters religiously, and whose lawn looks artificial, had enough of my mowing 2-4 times a summer and at the highest setting. But it could be anyone. Here's what our lawn looked like before my wife mowed it today (I wanted to hold out until the last possible minute, but she just wanted to get it done):
You can see by the image that, while not being a pristine lawn (I never water or fertilize), it's far from weedy or overgrown. On the edge it grows faster, where neighbor water and nutrient runoff hits my property. There are a few dandelion seed head stalks in the foreground.
Here's the letter I wrote in response to the superintendent:
Lancaster County Weed Control
Attn: Brent Meyer, Superintendent
Work Order: W79922
Dear Mr. Meyer,
Yesterday I received a notice about “weeds and worthless vegetation” on my property. After reviewing the noxious weed list online it is evident that I am not growing purple loosestrife, Canada thistle or any of the others listed; indeed, as a board member of Wachiska Audubon, a prairie conservation group, I would never grow such plants and am well aware of the issues surrounding them and other exotic invasives in our ecosystems.
I would appreciate clarification, pertinent to my property, about what the issue is. If it is the 15-20 dandelions in the lawn, a quick drive through the neighborhood will show many yards have the imported weed currently blooming, including my immediate neighbors; dandelion is an important first nectar source for many early-emerging native bees and other insects that are key to performing essential pollinator services.
If the issue is the length of my lawn, I do routinely stay behind my neighbors in my mowing regime as I work to conserve soil moisture, grow deeper roots, and out compete most weeds organically. I try to keep the front at the 6” ordinance heights, while allowing lawn behind the fence to go much beyond this limit.
My 1,500’ backyard native plant garden has been featured in the Lincoln Journal Star, Omaha World Herald, online at the magazines Fine Gardening and Garden Design, and has been on several local garden tours. In addition, it has been mentioned and linked to on the blog The Buzz at Cherry Creek – a website that explores the evolution of a pollinator garden being established by UNL Extension where your office is located. You can find images and a description of my award-winning garden here: http://deepmiddle.blogspot.com/p/my-garden.html.
I’m sure you are aware of the need to conserve water, maintain higher lawn lengths, and even to mitigate lawns in general from our public and private landscapes as we experience drought boom and bust cycles and shrinking wildlife habitats. I have been thinking about creating large shortgrass prairie beds to replace most of my front lawn – buffalo grass, sideoats grama, and little bluestem. As a part time garden designer working with clients in Omaha and Lincoln, and writing a weekly sustainable garden column at Houzz.com, I’m well aware of the challenges and perceptions such a landscape would have in my suburban community and the need for thoughtful design.
I look forward to hearing back from you on a clarification of this matter.
If you have a tiller bring it on over. We'll only leave a narrow lawn walkway up the middle leading to the backyard, and the rest will be sustainable prairie.
|So much for signs educating others and creating positive change.|