written by: Brian Jones•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 7/30/2009
Environmentally conscious homeowners have begun trading out their gas-powered equipment for electric, but there is another option few know about. There are naturally occurring grasses that never need to be mowed.
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In trying to keep green, what better way to start than our own lawn?Especially amongst Americans the lawn, that private space all our own, is held in esteem almost as much as the house itself. Neighborhood wars have broken out over arguments about lawns. This is no small matter. And so, in reassessing our homes in the wake of environmental enlightenment, the lawn cannot be left out. Many have traded in their gas powered mowers and weed-eaters for electric models in this effort. There is, however, another option of which many are unaware – “no-mow" grass.
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What Is No-Mow?
No-mow brings to mind something plastic like the artificial turf on a football field or the Brady’s lawn from The Brady Bunch, but no-mow is a live grass. To be fair, some no-mow grass is genetically engineered to not grow beyond a certain height, but we all know most environmentalists are suspicious of DNA modification and there are grasses that occur naturally that never need to be mowed.
The natural no-mow grasses are the fine fescues of genus Festuca. These narrow-leafed grasses are soft, not rigid, like the typical lawn grasses and by mid-summer, instead of growing up, they bend low and stay near the ground. Although in the wild, the fescues are known for clumping together in patches, the seed can be bought in special blends of species that avoid this unwanted characteristic.
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Benefits and Drawbacks
One negative aspects that some do not like, is that in the spring the lawn will brown until the new growth starts. However, unlike the regular tall growing grasses, it keeps its green throughout the winter. With no-mow grass there is no labor, no mowers – gas or electric and they provide a thick, luscious growth. In fact, this grass grows so well, it will never need to be fertilized, so there is no worry about poisoning the ground water for aesthetic purposes.
This grass is best in shaded areas. If there are plenty of trees, or up in the northern regions where it is from originally, it is the perfect substitute for more traditional grasses. If you have a lot of direct sunlight and heat, it may not fare so well as these fescues tend to overgrow and flower early with large amounts of direct sun.
It is true that many nurseries do not carry no-mow species of grass but this doesn’t have to stop you as there are numerous suppliers online who would be happy to take your order. If you are unfamiliar or wary from purchasing online, ask your local nursery and they may be able to special order it for you.