I've always thought growing grass was a terrible idea. As a kid I was pretty practical and I didn't see any benefit to having a green lawn full. I was also pretty well aware of the amount of effort required to maintain the lawn at home growing up since the mower was often my job. I hated mowing it and my parents weren't even really big lawn freaks. We had weeds and dandelions and bare patches. I always marveled at the crazy amount of time and effort our neighbours across the street wasted on keeping their yard green and presentable.
Now I've grown up and I feel pretty much the same way. It might not make my neighbours happy but at least I didn't follow through with my plan to pave it and paint it green. As a child I assumed the problem was that people wanted a large green square in front of their homes and concrete seemed to be a very practical solution to that problem.
I mow the lawn and I make an effort to keep it nice but I don't engage in the futile effort to kill the plants that want to grow and bring in plants that don't want to. I'd much rather bring back a friend from my childhood: ground ivy. My mom called it "Creeping Charlie" (not "Creepy Charlie" - that's a whole other story). It was about that time that I started to wonder about what makes some plants desirable to grow and others weeds. Now I'm pretty sure the definition revolves around just how easy it is to grow the plant. See, here in Windsor, Kentucky Bluegrass doesn't want to live. I know because I've planted it and it became downright suicidal. Creeping Charlie, on the other hand, thrives. Not only does Ground Ivy thrive, but it doesn't need anywhere near the maintenance that those plain green grass lawns do. It grows lower so it doesn't need to be mowed as much. It spreads well and chokes out other weeds that I'm allergic to. It doesn't need a pile of chemical fertilizers or pesticides that make a lush soft lawn toxic to walk on.
Ground Ivy with the little purple flowers is nice but it's not the only option. Jeff talked about planting clover a few years ago and Candace mentioned mint as well. We now have a little chocolate mint wandering into the back yard and I tried to transplant some creeping charlie into the front yard but, here's a testament to the power of my gardening inability, it died.
That's right. I failed to plant the weed that most people can't manage to get rid of. Honestly, I didn't put a whole lot of effort into it but really, how much work should this take? Weed, dirt, water... Doesn't that usually produce a lot more weeds? Candace has a nice big garden moving along in the front yard now and I think that's a great alternative to grass. If you're going to work on something then at least make it something creative instead of the same green square everyone else is doing. Now that big space around the garden, that might be a good candidate for concrete...