Just say no-mow

The "Absolutely Free" section of the classified ads is just about the best part of my local, daily newspaper. People are always giving away perfectly good -- and sometimes incredibly odd -- items. Like hot tubs for eight and pipe organs and sundry out-of-commission automobiles. Anyway, I think I'll be putting in an Absolutely Free ad of my own this spring. Here's just what it will say:

Free sod. You cut and haul.

See, my hope is that some cheapskate building contractor will jump at the chance to have a half acre's worth of established grass -- and I'll be left with a blank slate to reseed as I see fit. I used to think I would install native prairie grasses and simply mow a few paths through the growth now and then, but the more conservative of my neighbors might prefer I go with a more turf-like alternative. Turns out no-mow and low-mow options do exist, and municipalities and homeowners alike are giving them a try with good results.

Thick-growing Eco-Lawn is one that looks particularly promising to me, since it only needs to be mowed once a month -- if even that much. It's a blend of several fine-bladed fescues that can grow up to nine inches long. Interestingly, these grasses are said to fall over once they reach about five inches tall. That means even if I do let the grass grow for long periods without mowing, it will lay down enough to confound the enforcers of our local weed ordinance. (I don't know about your neck of the woods, but where I live, once one's uncut grass reaches about eight inches tall, the city will come and cut it for you -- and bill and fine you accordingly, of course.)

I should note that Eco-Lawn's purveyors aren't the only game around. Nichols Garden Nursery, Hobbs & Hopkins, and still others sell their versions of turf substitute. In general, their more earth-friendly lawn mixes require no water or fertilization once they've become established -- not that I would bother to water or fertilize anyway -- and some of them need to be mowed about once or twice a year rather than once a week. I like the sound of that.