What’s ripping up the lawns?

‘Saw lots of lawns like this on May 5, 2019

Crows are said to be the culprits. Well really it’s the grubs they are after that are the problem.

I have noticed a lot more crows on peninsular Halifax this spring and am wondering if disruption of the roost at Mt. St Vincent last fall has anything to do with it.

Racoons are also reported to do it as well (at night), and we have lots of those.

One solution – let ’em do it, re-seed it when they are through, and then you shouldn’t have them the next year.
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Spreading clover seed on a Halifax lawn

Clover Lawn

My front lawn is particularly difficult, but not atypical of front lawns (or sometimes back lawns) in Halifax.

It was established on shallow soil, there are tree roots through it and from late May on it is shaded by Norway Maple.

Every now and then the city digs part of it up for water and sewer stuff or sidewalsk and replaces the old topsoil with sandy “manufactured topsoil” which makes it even more droughty.

I will get around to diversifying the area with garden beds, but in the meantime, if it’s looking particularly ratty in the spring, I spread clover on it in April or early May.

A pound of Dutch white clover seed costs about 13$ at Halifax Seed; that’s enough, they say, for about 1500 sq ft of lawn.

The big challenge is how to spread the very small seed evenly and not too heavily.

Here’s my recipe:
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Recent research shows bees love naturalized yards!

Here is a coverage in the media:


& Apr 23, 2019:
To Nurture Nature, Neglect Your Lawn
By Margaret Renkl in The New York Times. “Why poison the earth when you can have wildflowers at your feet and songbirds in your trees without even trying?”

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This fall, red maple matched Japanese maple for colour

The red maples were a match for the Japanese maples in Halifax on Oct 30, 2018

Red maples left, Japanese maples right, Halifax, Oct 30, 2018

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Surette on bottled water and lawn chemicals

In “Let’s stop being such environmental dunces” (Chronicle Herald, Oct 2, 2018), columnist Ralph Surette cited bottled water and our use of lawn chemicals as prime examples of “low-hanging toxic fruit that is environmentally, economically and logically idiotic — and that must be picked if we are going to make sense of anything.”
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Last days of Common Roots at the QE site

Common Roots Urban Farm in Halifax on Sep 29, 2018
(Click on image for larger version)

2018 was the 7th season for the Common Roots Urban Farm which was “set up as a pilot project at Robie Street and Bell Road in 2012”. However, it’s their last season at that site, and we haven’t heard yet where it will be next year, just that it will be somewhere. I am guessing it will be one the old St. Pats Highschool site on Quinpool, only a few hundred meters away. At least that would be a good site for it with lots of sun.

It’s been a wonderful community resource and taught us all a lot, individually and as a community. Kudos to Jamie Melrose & Co.
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A short walk

Steep banks (above) are difficult to maintain in grass and can be hazardous to mow. One simple alternative we viewed on our walk: hostas (below). They are robust, requiring little care once established, and hold the soil together well; with time they will make an attractive full cover of the bank.

As a first test of an approach we may pursue, we took a couple of hours with a camera in hand to walk a neighbourhood and to talk to people about their landscapes.

Then we put together a short video from some of footage on the theme of alternatives to intensive lawncare.

We’re learning!

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What we’re up to…

Joe-Pye weed in full bloom in a sidewalk setting in Halifax, Sep 10, 2018. The species is native to NS, “forming colonies along streams, banks, meadows and swamps” – Source: Nova Scotia Plants)

This website is being developed by two Nova Scotians, one an economist and the other an ecologist, to highlight examples of urban landscapes that we see as ecologically desirable or at least pointed in that direction.

Initially those examples will be somewhat Halifax-centric, reflecting our own urban settings.

It’s very much a learning process for us. We are using the site to help us develop our concepts and to organize related information.

Hopefully at some point, this website/blog will be of interest to others. When we think it’s getting there, we will put our names “out there”. Regardless, it is not about us, but about sharing and promoting ways we can live more in harmony with the natural world.

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