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A Mower Friendly Lawn
May 28, 2013

I hope you had a wonderful and blessed memorial weekend.

We need our Heroes.

Please continue to pray for the many in disaster areas.

For the next few days, low in the northeast skies, just after sunset or dusk, you can see a treat.

A rare treat if you have a field of view.

In a grouping from brightest to the dim you will see three planets.

Venus, Jupiter and Mercury.

Catch it if you can.

In the south skies, 1/4 to 1/3 of the way up you can spot yellowish Saturn.

A small telescope or spotting scope will show the rings and the large moon 'Titan'.

(Eastern Meadowlark pictured.)

(Cardinal Nest)

This has been a challenging spring in Southwest Michigan.

April gave us Monsoon like rains and floods.

Followed by heat, and a killing frost.

Followed by more warmth, a couple more inches of rain and some scattered frost.

With few casualties and some minor weather damage, I think I am just about caught up with my spring chores and one or two things on the Honey-Do-list.

That is one list that never goes away.

No matter what.

Still, I am thankful for so much.

You Too?

As the air temperatures heat up, dirty hummingbird feeders and sugar become more of an issue.

Warmth, moisture and some food (sugar) are the perfect recipe for bacteria and molds to grow.

Bacteria can cause illness and death in people and in birds.

If you are offering hummers a supplemental feeder or five, you are taking on a responsibility.

Feeding hummers isn't to be taken as a casual thing.

Fill and keep your feeders clean on a regular basis.

Cleaning and changing sugar water is required more often in hot weather.

As flowers (nectar) becomes more available for the flying jewels, you can back your sugar water formula down to a 4 parts water and 1 part sugar.

Not only will the feeders stay clean a day or two longer, but now the hummers are required to visit more often for the same value they were getting at a 3 to 1 mixture.

This is after all, one of the reasons we put out feeders.......

To watch the birds.

Don't forget your birdbaths too.

Warmer weather and water, equals algae and stinky water.

It is also breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Now, if your baths and other water sources are like mine, they need to be filled at least once a day and algae isn't an issue.

If it is for you, copper is the ideal neutralizer for algae.

Sure, you can toss in several pre 1982 pennies, or get a section of copper pipe.

The pipe works much better all the way around.

You have more copper to do its thing.

You aren't picking out pennies or trying to find them after you hose them out.

Simply pick up the pipe, hose and clean when needed and replace.

You're done.

A cap or two of chlorine bleach at dusk doesn't hurt either.

It kills off cooties, and by morning has oxidized into a harmless product.

Today's article isn't much, but an important factor for many lawns and would be landscapers.

Making your lawn 'Mower Friendly'


(Old tiger Stadium.)

Mowing your lawn shouldn't be a huge chore.

I know some people like to mow their lawn.

The smell of fresh cut grass.

The looks of a nice tight cut.

I like the look too, but I can't say I'm a big fan of cutting the grass.

For me, less grass is better.

Lawns, while looking good, are one big money pit, and consumer of time.

To have a nice looking lawn, you must spend time and money.

The bigger the lawn, the more time, money, and mowing.

I'm of the age, where less is best.

I've also learned over the years, that landscape and habitat design can be a friend, or an enemy.

Large expanses of grass came from Our European forefathers.

The need for large lawns carried over from Europe the the Americas.

Thankfully, more people are recognizing the pitfalls of a large and manicured lawn.

Not simply because the time and money involved.

More and more people are realizing we need to be better stewards of earth.

We want to attract birds, butterflies, and other wildlife to our little corners of the world.

A nice green carpet isn't going to do that (maybe robins worm hunting).

In the natural world, more wildlife lives at waters edge, woods edge, in meadows, and woodlands, than in open expanses of manicured grass.

Even deserts offer a better habitat.

I realize for some of you, it is taking a big step.

I too grew up with a big, manicured lawn.

Fertilizers put down, sprinklers running all the time.

Pulling weeds.

And mowing.

Heck, after gardening and other chores, some days left little time to simple be a boy.

I'm still learning how to scale back.

I'm learning how to make less work.

I'm working at a mower friendly yard.

Shrinking the lawn and increasing wildlife habitats and veggie gardens is good.

You put more food on your table,

You are offering food, protection and homes for birds, butterflies, pollinators, toads, salamanders and who knows what.

Who doesn't enjoy watching a feathered friend feeding a nest of babies or a young fledgling.

Watching butterflies flit through and nectaring on your flowers.

All made possible by your loving and caring hands.

If you can afford professionals, great.

If on the other hand you are like me, a do it yourself kind of person.

You need a plan, or design.

Often I will look at professional jobs and say to myself "I like it, but it isn't me".

First rule of Gardening, or Landscaping................

Put yourself into your work.

I mean simply this.......

It is after all, your yard, your gardens, your habitats,

It should say something about you.

Like putting a signature on a piece of art.

Professional jobs say nothing about who you are.

Landscape designers say that cutting out islands and planting stuff is to amateurish (you don't know what you're doing).

It makes the landowner look like they are simply cutting and placing because they don't know what else to do.

Maybe that is so, but I say this........

It is your lawn and gardens to do with what you want (without angering neighbors).

Plan your work and work your plan.

You've heard that saying before.

Well, it works for your habitats, gardens and lawns as well.

Unless you have a formal garden, the long straight groomed lines are a thing of the past.

No, I'm not telling you what to do, I am stating that 'Nature' knows best.

Follow the gradual curves as woods edge moves in and out as it dovetail's into a meadow.

(Put it on graph paper to scale.)

This is what is called a soft edge in Nature.

A soft edge is east to work around.

Easy to mow.

Struggling with a lawn mower, back and forth, picking up the front end to maneuver.

Too much like work, what a hassle.

Soft curves and edges not only are eye pleasing, they are mower friendly too.

I just happen to have an example for you. Now understand, this little task had more than one reason behind it.

I wanted to make it easier to mow, and I needed an excuse to buy a few more plants.

Planning My Work.

First I decided what I wanted to do.

Then I placed the hose on the grass, offering me a soft line.

I tinkered a bit until I had what was going to work.

After the hose line was in place, I grabbed some flour and went over the hose line.

I now can pick up the hose and have a clear marked line to start cutting out.

Pretty simple huh?

(Bonus) I carefully removed some of the sod and patched up some brown spots left by the fur kids over winter.

The remaining sod I turned over, and as you see I threw in some old leaves, grass clippings, and even some garbage.

I filled the rest in with old dirt and potting mix ( I mounded it up, as I know it will settle down).

Moved a few young plants around, bought a few more and instant "Nice".

I have a mower friendly corner that will soon flower for the rest of the growing season.

(I have mowed a few times now, and it is much smoother than before.)

Not only does it have eye appeal, I will be feeding birds and pollinators through September (longer if no frost).

(My little corner before edging and planting. Below is the edging warming in the sun and the finished product.)

It's time to make life a bit easier for you and more friendly for the wildlife you want and the environment we all live in.

I don't know about you, but I would rather spend more time walking around barefoot, sitting with a good book, or relaxing and watching the wildlife as it unfolds before me.

Need I remind you.

Add some art work, something that lends a touch of you to your handy work.

Something that says you.

It's your call.

Read the American Indian Quote below.

It's on every letter, but really take the time.

Well Ron, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

Perhaps love is the process of my leading you gently back to yourself.

Antoine De Saint-Exupery (1900-1944) French Pilot, Author

God gives us a freedom of choice.

A freedom to choose our path.

When we choose him, he in turn gives us back to ourselves.

We are a new creation in him.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NIV)

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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