Redefining the Lawn for the 21st Century

Longer grass uses less water than shorter grass.

With spring giving way to summer, many of us have our attention firmly outdoors. For many post and beam home owners, maintaining a lawn is a large part of the weekly chores. The lawn as we know it was popularized in 17th century England, where only the aristocracy could afford the massive labor required to maintain an economically useless short-cut lawn. With the invention of mechanical mowers, as well as shorter workweeks, a well-kept lawn became an ideal for the middle classes as well. Recently, however, ecological concerns have caused many to rethink the role of the lawn. In places like the drought-stricken west, maintaining a traditional grass lawn is very difficult and services to spray paint lawns to make them greener are becoming popular. If you want to keep a grass lawn, here are a few ways to do so while consuming fewer resources.

This Timberpeg in Ireland exemplifies the native habitat of the lawn.

Use Drought Tolerant Grass

Most species of grass require large amounts of water in order to stay green. This is not an issue in the British Isles, where the concept originated, but in much of the United States rainfall is less and water is scarcer. Up to 70 percent of all residential water is used for landscaping in the United States, most of which is used for lawn watering. Grass will go dormant in the summer, reducing its need for water but turning brown. If the color of your lawn is of no concern, this is one option to reduce your water use.
Another way to reduce water use is to plant more drought tolerant grass species. While grasses like Bluegrass and Fescues are the most common, they also require more water. Species like Buffalograss or Grama are derived from shortgrass prairie plants, and therefore require much less water.

Wildflowers, in conjunction with a smaller lawn, are one way to save water without sacrificing appearances.

Use a Reel Mower

Gasoline powered mowers are notoriously polluting, with the EPA estimating around 5 percent of all smog being caused by lawn care equipment. While a manual push mower may not seem the most fun, modern reel mowers are much easier to operate than in years past. Furthermore, the cut a reel mower makes is more precise and thus better for the grass than the rough cut from a powered rotary mower. If your lawn is too large for a manual mower, then pushed models for a tractor are available. If you continue to use a rotary model, make sure the blades are sharp for best results. Due to the advances in lithium-ion batteries, electric powered lawn equipment is easier to use than ever and a great alternative to gas powered equipment.

Especially in rural settings, the lawn away from the home can be left to grow longer and go dormant in summer.


Although bagging lawn clippings is common, it is actually healthier for the lawn if you leave the clippings in place. Clippings are over 80 percent water, so they break down within two weeks. They also are high in nitrogen, so “grasscycling” will reduce your need for fertilizer by about 20 percent. For best results, only cut the grass when it is dry and remove no more than a third of its length at a time. Furthermore, longer grass requires less water than shorter grass so consider raising your mower height to save water. If you must remove the clippings, then they make great compost!

With minor additional planning, your lawn can be both Eco-friendly and attractive.

We hope these tips help you maintain a great lawn while using fewer resources and spending less. And if you need a great timber frame home to add to your great lawn, please contact Timberpeg today.