Some Recent Posts On This Site
Orchids As Weeds
Brood Parasites (Birds)
Toxic Plants of Field and Gardens I and II
Our Own Ecosystem- Lawn ecology
Many of us are fortunate to have a tiny piece of the earth’s land surface under our control. What do you want to do with it? One option is to manage it like a golf course. At the other extreme, and much commoner, would be to give it over completely to natural processes. Yes, that requires redefining what we mean by the term “weed”. Or maybe we can manage our land as a mix of the two extremes–leave some lawn but also leave other areas where nature is allowed to take charge. We could intervene selectively, encouraging some species while removing others. Of course, whichever of the latter options you choose, there may be neighbors who sniff in disapproval. They likely would favor the first option which offers you hope that you can have that lush, deep green turf that the corporate purveyors of lawn equipment and chemicals hope you want. Environmental implications of this choice are up to you to determine or to ignore. The other choices are, to my mind and I hope some of yours, more interesting and wise in an ecological context. These thoughts are worth pursuing further, and I hope to engage you on them in the future.
The satellite image (below) of Southwest Water Management District lands in Pasco County, Florida, reveals a wide range of ecosystems and surface features reflecting man’s varying influence.
The land use types run the gamut from natural ponds (dark features) and adjacent cypress wetlands which although appearing natural, likely have been subject to disturbances of their hydrologic and nutrient cycles and quite possibly their animal and plant communities. Meanwhile the overmowed sandy soils, roads, and former grazing lands (light features) clearly reflect stripping away of soil organic matter and the virtual extirpation of natural biotic communities. Clearly, lawns, as typically managed in the United States, more resemble the highly disturbed end of the landscape gradient, although often much greener in the growing season as a result of irrigation and fertilizing. Nudging our yards along towards the less disturbed end of the gradient is not necessarily a major chore and can be approached in different ways. More about this later.