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Thoughts on the Aussie lawn

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    Questioning the usefulness of an Aussie icon, the lawn, is … well, un-Australian I suppose. When it comes to icon status, lawns are right up there with Vegemite, the Drizabone coat, the Victa Mower and Sir Donald Bradman. Drive around the burbs and evryone has one.

    You can’t eat a lawn and it doesn’t attract insects to the garden. It will not produce attractive flowers to feed our native birds and it consumes a lot of precious time and water to keep it green and healthy. A lawn can’t absorb as much carbon dioxide as the same size area planted in trees, so it doesn’t do much to combat global warming. Lawns evolved in the cool dampness of England and their introduction into the Australian landscape was as shortsighted as the introduction of the rabbit by a homesick Brit. We may occasionally talk about becoming a republic and ditching the Queen, but we cling as tenaciously to our English lawns as we do to the Union Jack on our flag.

    Bill Mollison of permaculture fame is fond of saying that suburban lawns in the U.S.A. use more resources than any other agricultural industry in the world. They use more phosphates than India and more poisons than any other form of agriculture! Another big negative is the maintenance factor. Guys (and gals) how many hours in a lifetime have you spent behind a noisy, pollution-emitting lawnmower? Oops…. I’ve just attacked another Aussie icon – the Victa Mower.

    Will we say in our final hours, “I wish I’d spent more time in this life mowing the lawn”? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend the time doing something with a useful return – like growing vegies or dropping into the local for a cold schooner.

    I have to concede that backyard lawns have made a major contribution to my favourite sport. If Rodger Waugh was a diehard permaculturist who rotary hoed his Bankstown lawn into a food garden, his sons Steve and Mark might not have played backyard cricket and gone on to wear the Baggy Green for Australia. Perhaps the Poms don’t play backyard cricket and that’s why they lost the Ashes? Well, at last I’ve found something positive to say about Australian lawns!


    I guess the thing is lawns look nice….

    The crunchy brown crap that is allegedly my “lawn” is not very aesthetically pleasing. We are currently trying to figure a pleasing to the eye landscape that does not require the maintenance and the water of lawn, but is not bare red earth either.

    I would like to maintain a small area of lawn, something that can be mowed by hand, but thats it.


    We’ve got the brown lawn out back too, at least some patches, though our nice side lawn is green as that’s where the septic goes. The plan is to get a lamb or two for that then it’s no longer a lawn, it’s “pasture” 😆


    As I read the heading on this thread I thought that the only good thing going for a lawn is backyard cricket.. 😆

    I remember in my past life having to stand in over 30 degree heat watering a bare patch of earth every 30 mins to keep it moist in preparation for the “spray on grass” to arrive… they sprayed it on – I think it’s a mixture of grass seeds, some sort of adhesive and goodness knows what else – only to have it all wash away down the drain in a downpour that occurred the next day. Back they came and along with them came more scorching heat. Back I was out there every 30 mins watering that ridiculous patch of nothing.. actually it was green because they put some sort of dye in with it!! 😮 I seriously think that that little exercise was the clincher in me walking away from my marriage given that the ole ex rang every 30 mins to make sure I was watering his dye!!! 😆 Dunno what it is with the (generalisation coming) Aussie male psyche and their lawn but they can stick it where the sun don’t shine! Nah, not even that would work – they’ve developed grass that grows in shade!!! :lol::lol::lol:

    The grassy weedy patch out the front of my rented home has only ever seen rainfall, actually the whole garden has only had rainfall and that’s the way it will stay. When I see a green lawn around here these days I get quite cross.

    Here endeth the rant… *insert angel icon* :hug:


    g’day warwick,

    not going to be a lawn but grass cover that will attract and help the native critters,, that is the native grasses especially indemic to you area they are drought hardy and provide food for birds and mulch for you garden if slashed using a brushcutter. when the grasses are in flower they also attract bees.



    I don’t particularly care if my lawn (well grass anyway) doesn’t attract native critters… It does keep the area around the house a LOT cooler in summer and acts as an essential barrier to passing bush-fires. Don’t care what Bill Mollison thinks about that – we are keeping ours. And mowing the lawn is good exercise – the ONLY exercise for some people.


    While I’m having a dig at Aussie icons, what about the Hill’s Hoists that festoon so many backyards? An uglier piece of backyard architecture I can’t imagine. I saw one on a rural property the other day. It had beeen covered in with shadecloth and used as a propagating area. Great use for it!


    We are slowly in the prcess of getting rid of our front grassed area. I am building raised circular edged garden beds of up 2 meters across. At the moment we have one full of herbs and the other with lavender. once complete i will place decorative gravel in between and presto no more lawn. i am planning natives for the others or perhaps a few roses. All up when finished i hope it will look nicer than the grass and will certainly be more water effecient. Witth 5 kids though i will have to kep some grass out the back.


    while I see our grass as fairly non-productive, it does supply a lot of clippings for our compost. We have never watered our lawn and except for two occasions when it started turning brown, it’s bright green. We never fertilise it either. Our dogs love to run on the grass and I look forward to the day when my grandkids play on it.

    As for the Hills Hoist, I have one of those as well. 😀 It’s very practical, hard working and will last a long time. Not everything should be beautiful – ugly things highlight their beautiful surroundings. It’s yin and yang, always a balance. There is plenty of room in my world for the practical and mundane, as well as the beautiful. Long live the Hill’s Hoist! :tup:


    I have lots of little creatures to feed (guinea pigs and rabbit) so while I don’t give a rat’s bottom about having lawn, I am very interested in keeping my couch grass growing for the animals. This is accomplished by not cutting the grass with a lawnmower and using mulch and watering with grey water from the washing machine. Apart from the couch grass, we seem to have a mixture of grasses and clover (courtesy of the hay waste from the cages used as mulch) and I find that I have lots of bees attracted to the clover flowers.


    I have a lot of plants packed into my little suburban block and without fail, new visitors always comment on the amount of work it must be. They are shocked and *very* sceptical when we say that mowing the (smallish) lawn takes twice as much time each week as maintaining the garden does. As much as I like the concept of getting rid of it though, the kids and the dogs love it, and I must say that lying on a nice patch of turf under a tree in the late afternoon has it attractions…


    We have just moved from an over-paved backyard to a big backyard full of old trees and a ” lawn”. I suspect that the grass is really more weeds than any pedigree lawn. It was lovely in winter but is brown with awful dust patches in-between. I need an open space for my boys to run around and throw balls and the paving we had previously wasn’t very kid friendly.

    We are pouring our bath and shower water on the ground at the moment in an attempt to stop the ever spreading dust patches but I fear we are fighting a losing battle. I don’t know what the answer is, but a green lawn that didn’t require and water would be fantastic!!!!:lol:


    Warm Earth wrote:

    While I’m having a dig at Aussie icons, what about the Hill’s Hoists that festoon so many backyards? An uglier piece of backyard architecture I can’t imagine. I saw one on a rural property the other day. It had beeen covered in with shadecloth and used as a propagating area. Great use for it!

    Psst! Quiet, you’ll go to hell saying things like that!

    I wanted to put our (suburban) front lawn down to wheat but my wife vetoed the ides, so much for the Aussie male!

    I harvest our lawns with a modern push mower and used the clippings for compost, chook food and mulch.

    It can be usefull, we do not weed or fertilise and the only water it gets apart from rain looks suspiciously Grey!



    anyone who has kids and dosent have a lawn/grass for them to play on is robbing their children….just because its somthing we grow that we cant eat dosent make it bad,if it gets kids out playing games and having active fun its more than equal to eating organic food:tup:

    Lady Bee

    What constitutes “lawn” as opposed to just “grass”? We have a couple of acres around the house that has grass. It doesn’t get watered, so during winter and spring it’s lovely and green and lush and it gradually turns brown and dies back in summer only to spring forth again when the autumn rains come. Our chooks free range over the whole area, so they nibble on the grass, get rid of the bugs, leave little piles of manure on it, chase grasshoppers across it, etc.

    Certainly our grass needs mowing from time to time, but I wouldn’t like to give it up. It’s great to kick a footy round on, play chase with the dogs; etc.

    I don’t think there’s a problem with having grass, it’s just the type of grasses that are in the majority of ‘lawns’ and the fact that a lot of people want them to look like bowling greens. Mine’s more like “the rough” on a golf course, but without the watering.

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