6 Reasons Why Grass Lawns Suck

Clover lawn - Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.

Grass lawns are another one of those things we just take for granted. Everyone has them, so why should we do differently? Turns out, there’s very few reasons to use grass as a lawn.

Grasses are great at feeding grazing animals. This was their primary cultivated use throughout history. Afterwards, they became more of an ornamental feature in 16th century gardens because of their uniformity – bitches loved uniformity in the 16th century. Fast forward to today and we haven’t changed anything. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with an ornamental lawn; but at least choose a plant that’ll serve its purpose well. Unless you keep grazing animals beside your pool, your lawn is almost completely useless and in some cases harmful.

So without further ado, here are 6 reasons why grass lawns suck and a great alternative that actually makes sense.

1. They Need Constant Trimming

If you want a lawn that remains a short length, why on earth would you continue to use a plant that grows several feet high. This makes no sense. You need to cut it every week or so using a lawn mower. This is laborious and contributes to noise and air pollution.

At Valhalla, we use white clover as our all purpose lawn plant. It stays under a foot so we never have to cut it.

Tall Grass vs. Short Clover
At Valhalla, we opted for white clover.On the right is X laying out a path with bricks near some clover patches. We didn’t even need to cut it! 

2. It Destroys Your Soil

Grass Cuttings in Wheel Barrow
Why are we throwing these heaps of great organic matter away?!

Grass in itself doesn’t deplete your soil, but the way we treat it does. It’s a pretty intensive plant and as such requires a lot of soil nutrients and water. At the end of its life cycle it’s supposed to fall back to the ground and eventually degrade back into the soil, serving its purpose and keeping the soil rich. Unfortunately, we end up cutting the grass and throwing it away along with all the nutrients it took from the ground.

Clover not only doesn’t deplete your soil, since you don’t throw it away, it enriches it by turning nitrogen in the air into a usable form for plants in the earth. Nitrogen is one of those soil nutrients that help grow big and healthy plants. So merely by growing clover you can fertilize your lawn.

Which brings me to my next point:

3. Grass Lawns Usually Need Fertilizing

Most people need to fertilize their lawns to keep it looking healthy. Many use synthetic fertilizers that cost more money, kill your soil’s microbial life, and pollute water. ‘Nuff said.

4. They Also Require Frequent Watering

Grass requires a lot of watering to stay healthy. This once again adds to the labour required for upkeep.

Clover, on the other hand, has deeper tap roots that can access more water and is therefore more drought tolerant. It’ll stay green during a hot dry summer long after your grass has turned a dusty yellow. It’ll also survive further into the winter than grass. Also, unlike short grass, a clover lawn will provide a nice canopy for surface water so it won’t evaporate as fast.

5. Grass Doesn’t Get Along With Other Plants

Grass grows very tightly together which is why it’s great for high foot traffic or playing fields. It also spreads fast and well. So if you need a soccer field, this is your choice. But that’s not what we’re talking about when we think of a lawn. A lawn doesn’t get that much aggressive traffic. In fact, like we’ve established, it’s more of an ornamental feature that’s often paired with a garden. So why would we use grass, a plant that acts like a weed and chokes out and kills other plants we’re trying to grow? It’s a horrible choice for most situations.

Unlike grass which leads to soil compaction, clover has a root system that actually aerates the ground and allows other plants to grow. Its roots go deeper than most other plants and flowers and so it won’t compete with them for space or nutrients. Clover will actually help your other plants grow due to its nitrogen fixing qualities. In a clover lawn, you can easily dig a hole with your hands, drop a flower in it, and be confident that it’ll grow well.

In most yards there are a few well trafficked paths that clover may not stand up to too well. In this case, I suggest ground oregano. Much like grass, it grows very tightly and stands up to a pounding. However, it doesn’t spread as easily as grass and can therefore be trained into nice fragrant paths that release a faint sent of oregano every time you walk on it. It also feels amazing to walk on. If you find the oregano can’t stand the foot traffic either, just make wood chip or other types of paths. Defining and making paths is something you should be doing anyway. Your entire lawn is not a path and doesn’t get walked on everywhere.

6. Grass Lawns Are Ugly

Plain grass lawn
Not particularly interesting, if you ask me.

This may be a matter of personal taste, but a bland uniform lawn that looks the same as 99% of your neighbours’ isn’t particularly attractive. It also discourages plant diversity and gardens. Where are the accent colours? Where’s the personality?

Once again clover reigns supreme in its ability to encourage an awesome and unique looking lawn tapestry. It has a deep green colour, darker than most grass and puts out a decent looking white or red flower spotted throughout its even growth. These flowers also attract bees which adds to the personality of your yard and helps pollination. You can easily plant other flowers and plant life to create your own yard masterpiece which requires little effort to make and maintain.