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by Carl Wayne Hardeman

"Our problems are man-made,
therefore they may be solved by man.
And man can be as big as he wants.
No problem of human destiny is beyond
human beings." ~John F. Kennedy

Living in suburbia comes with a price. First there is the cost of creating and maintaining a landscape at least as well as the neighbors', which leads to the second price that of conformance. The only nonconformity allowed is to outdo the neighbors, yet within a certain orthodox model, which itself is embedded in town codes and zealously enforced.

But I can dream of a landscape more beautiful, more diverse, more responsible to Mother Nature and the planet, easier to maintain and cheaper. So let me dream.

My lawn has and still would have the required border beds along the house and a Bermuda grass sward. I would have a large kidney shaped meadow in the middle of both the front and back yards, which I would let naturalize, removing only volunteer perennials. Id sprinkle in wildflower seed and a butterfly host plant or two like milkweed and fennel. I know, theyre perennials, but I would make that exception. They would provide habitat and food for the critters, increase plant and critter diversity and populations, reduce water run-off, and improve the soil through biodiversity. We may again see many butterflies, spiders, toads and grasshoppers.

I would have a wide buffer area of shrubs and plants on my side of the ditch at the rear of my property. This provides the same benefits as my meadows and reduces creek bank erosion and water runoff.

My driveway and sidewalks would be replaced with pervious paving stones so water will soak into the ground and back into our water supply rather than running into the storm drain system and out into local creeks and rivers.

My gutters would drain into rain barrels to store water for my plants.

My rooftop, at least the side away from the street, would be covered in power generating solar cells.

Why do all this? Not just for the beauty, but because its the right thing to do for our planet. Someone once said we did not inherit the earth from our forebears, but have it on loan from our children. I dont know if apparent global warming is manmade or not, but that has no bearing on our need to be responsible citizens.

And did I mention saving money? The meadows would require mowing no more than once a year. The borders would only need trimming, not mowing. My mower would last longer. I would be buying much less electrical power and my roof would last longer.

And finally, I would have the good feeling of doing my part to preserve Mother Nature and the planet. And the town might save money by not needing so many codes enforcement officers.

Aint God good!


Carl Wayne tells us about himself:
"I write gardening articles for the Collierville, Tennessee, Independent, the Southaven, Mississippi, Press, and Desoto Magazine, all from a Southern perspective. I point out the correct pronunciation of ants (aints) and peonies (peOnies) and advise always to plant hydrangeas on the north side of the house. I've been in software development forty years, the last twenty with a large overnight express delivery company. I have taught computer science as adjunct faculty at local universities over twenty-five years. We have a small farm in Pontotoc County, Mississippi, where we raise a large garden with my in-laws. My in-laws were there when the REA strung the first electric wires in that area. They were killing hogs. That night for supper they had liver and lights."

Write Carl Wayne at this e-mail address: Rows of Buttercups

Read more of Carl Wayne's stories at USADS:
Southern Snakes
Me and Mimi in the Garden
Mississippi ~ the Soul of Dixie
Slide down my cellar door!

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