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The Green Divas
50 Shades of Green Divas: Do we really need lawns?
July 30, 2018 Green Diva Studio
Why did we develop a cultural obsession with lawns? We spoke with a couple of experts to understand the historical significance, why we really don't need them, and in fact why we are mostly better off without them. Listen, learn and share!

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1:0:04Great Divas and green dudes come in, many shades of green here to help you discover and celebrate your personal shade of green, our hosts, screen diva, meg and maxine, Margo, veteran radio chicks who share important news about climate change and the point of human existence, but somehow managed to make most of it fun and sexy, using at least 50 shades

Speaker 2:0:29upgrade

Speaker 1:0:42and welcome to another

Speaker 3:0:43lively episode of 50 shades of green devos. I'm green. I'm green diva Max, and you are in for a wonderful episode. Sit back, relax and check us out. We'll loosen up. Good stuff to come in your way. You'll be informed and you'll have some fun. So we always start with what we affectionately term witty banter. It may or may not be okay and it's somehow always tied into the weather. That's either whether a bugs, bugs. We're doing bugs. A lot of things had been bugged lately. Oh my God. It's their bugs everywhere. I am seeing things like really well, you know, Max wrote something about this English jumping spider like cricket thing. It's, I'm telling you this like monster bugs, seriously ugly and gross, and it's an invasive species of course. How about like this, like that plant that looks like a giant, a Queen Anne's lace, but it basically can blind you, blind you and give you a degree.

Speaker 3:1:53Burns. I, I think pictures host. I keep saying mother nature is totally pissed off and these things are growing and you just screw around because she's mad that we're not treating her. So like these things should be on the endangered species list or as Rosanna Danna would say, presented that. Oh my God, she was so fun. The endangered bases life. But Oh my God, we loved Gilda Radner. Yeah, she was wonderful to have a little hat tip to her. Yeah, she, she was awesome. It was awesome. So today we're talking about grants and loans, but what we're really talking about is we'd rather see, I mean this is our personal class food, not lawns, which actually is a book, but I'd like the whole concept. The movement, right? Or Gardens. Gardens are food. Anything. Flowers and beautiful native plants, things that don't require lots of chemicals. And water, right?

Speaker 3:2:58Yeah. We have too much of that, too much, too much, too much. And you know, there's a lot of, you know, we're going to be talking about weed in this show and I'm worth. But, you know, there's always, I think now the weeds are worth and not smoking, but it, what I had kind of put into this script was like, we'd might come in handy these days of the worldly insanity because hey, it's not easy out there, but did you ever hear the saying the grass is always greener on the other side? No, no, I'm just kidding. Just being a wise ass. Yes, absolutely. That's, that's my, that's my ged. Meg. Uh, it, it is a common phrase used to describe many things, but mostly it's a proverb which means that people always think that our, there's habit better in life. Uh, and it was used in a song in an American song called the grass is always greener on the other fellows yard.

Speaker 3:4:04Um, was written by two gentlemen Raymond, be Egan and Richard a whitening in 1924. And this is the chorus of the song because it kind of brings in the intent of the show. Uh, the grass is always greener. And the other fellows yard the little row we have to. Whoa. Oh boy, that's hard. But if we all could wear green glasses now, it wouldn't be so hard to see how green the grass is in our own back yard. Aw. I know. It's cute and it's a little cheesy, but. Hey, cutie is good. We like cute. So the grass is greener thing. Dates back from a poet. Ovid. Forty three BC, 17 or 18 day. I don't know what that all means. Yeah. They don't know what it was exactly from. So. Okay. So there's like a hundred year range or so, something like that. Uh, but it's from the poem, the art of love.

Speaker 3:5:02He wrote the apples on the other side of the wall or the sweetest. Our neighbors hen seems a goose. And your pot broken seems better than my whole one. This is from my Mama. Lisa's blog. Yeah. In July or whatever. Right. Mama Lisa did this blog and I kind of caught this in that blog, so we, it was very appropriate because it talked about the whole lineage of the grass is always greener on the other side and you know, we want the grass to be green, but we want a little less grass in a little more food and gardens. That's what I think. Uh, so yes we are talking about lawns and we will be questioning why we really need them. A book that came out quite a few years ago really inspired me to want to quit having so much lawn and just grow more food. Herbs and of course, uh, uh, I'm obsessed with flowers.

Speaker 3:5:57So keep lists. Yeah, I'm a flower kid. It's flower power, you know, you know, I'm a kid of the sixties man. I had flower power posters all over my house. Uh, so keep listening and find out why lawns may not be as green as you think. And while we're at it, now, let's do a quick social media shout out and we're stepping up our game. Kids, you got to find us at the green divas at 50 shades of Gds, the many shades of green or tm shades of grant at Tmj 15. And we're on instagram and twitter or at Green Diva, meg, uh, all of it. And if you say to your Alexa, hey darling, please play the green divas podcast, guess what? You will hear it. So we're like, Woo. And it's also on spotify were everywhere, man. We're like, we're, we're, we're spreading the green. Hi, this is a ugly. And you're lifting a 50 shades, the brain diva. So let's first get a bit historical perspective. Let's get hysterical, hysterical, or will you need to get some perspective on lawns. And Victoria, a PD, the founder of breakthrough insight consulting has a deep and wonderful knowledge of lawns. A, she's a public interest attorney who was program director at the Federated Conservation is to Westchester County and she's currently a member of the new castle conservation board. She recently started a group in new castle called healthy yards.

Speaker 4:7:51So the fascination with lawns in the United States really started back in the middle 18 hundreds when Americans were looking at the lawns of the British and the very well manicured lawns there and it became a question of status and people want it to have these luxurious lawns and tried to replicate them in the United States and what they found is that the natural native grasses did not do well and never would look the same way that the British lawns looked, so they did everything possible to identify seeds that weren't native to this area from other countries and blended those seeds together and put them in the ground. And what they found is, although they created this very beautiful, tight green lawn, they were not sustainable. They couldn't survive here with our weather conditions on our soil conditions. So what did they have to do? They had to amend the soil and they had to use chemicals and herbicides to allow the grass to thrive. So they were never natural. They were always contrived and I'm always needed supplemental synthetic ingredients to help them survive.

Speaker 4:8:57I often hear from people who are concerned that if they don't use chemicals and herbicides on their lawn, that the law won't be beautiful and green and rich, and what I tell them is that that's not true. You really can have a beautiful healthy looking lawn and not use chemicals. The way to do that is to follow some simple guidelines so it's really important to mo high. So when you're mowing your lawn, set your lawnmower to four and a half to five inches and this way the grass will stay high and the more grasp lead you have, the more the grass attracts the sun and all the nutrients of the sun that then go into the soil. So that's one really important thing to do. The soil needs to be healthy. There are a lot of microorganisms in there that helped keep the grass healthy, so it's important to have some diversity in your lawn.

Speaker 4:9:42So you want to have things like clover in the lawn. You know, we've learned over the years not to put clover in, but the fact is clover is nitrogen fixing, so it actually acts as a natural fertilizer in our lawn. So keeping it there, it actually looks beautiful. Uh, and an extra benefit is that the honeybees and the native bees love the nectar from the clover flowers. So that's a wonderful benefit and we spend a lot of time trying to get dandelions out of our lawns, but the fact is, dandelions actually helped to elevate the lawns and bring air into the system which is very healthy and really critically important. So try to leave your dandelions. Remember that once you mow your lawn, you're going to just see green. So no one knows. Needs to know that there are diverse types of plants in there. They all will look good. And the final thing to remember is to mow deeply is to water deep.

Speaker 4:10:33It's also important to think about ways to reduce our long, you know, many of us have an acre of land, half Acre, a quarter of land, and a lot of that is long. And when you think about lawn, you know, some people call it the green desert, it's not really that conducive to anything healthy for our environment. So we hear a lot about pollinators and the health of our bees and making sure that we're supporting the ecosystem to thrive. And one way to do that is to reduce your lawn. So what do we mean when we say reduce? Longwood basically means looking at your lawn and thinking about where can you take a piece of your existing lawn and convert it to something else, something more productive, something more beneficial to the environment. So maybe it's a native plant, perennial garden, right? So they're amazing native perennials and grasses that you can put into your garden that are very low maintenance.

Speaker 4:11:22The beauty of native plants is that they grew up in our region. Um, and anywhere you are in the country you can look for what are the native plants in my region where the native plant nurseries and garden centers that sell native plants. These are plants that grew up in our own region. So they've learned to kind of have a symbiotic relationship with the insects and the birds and they're pollinated by the insects that are local and the are very low maintenance. So because they grew up in our area, they don't need a lot of water, they don't need a lot of care, they don't need fertilizers.

Speaker 3:11:54So really you only need to pay attention to them. The first year you put them in the ground, once they are established, they take care of themselves. So these are plants that provide seeds for the birds that provide, you know, berries for the birds, they're amazing shrubs, dogwoods and elderberry that, uh, provide healthy berries for the birds and other wildlife.

Speaker 3:12:27So how did having a big green carpet in your front of your house become the status thing? Why don't we grow Food A, have more native plants and diverse grasses or flowers. I asked you and I asked recently, uh, our resident green dude and garden guy, Mike Novak, you know, the amount of water and chemicals needed to keep a manicured lawn is having an effect on the water supply, soil health, wildlife and biodiversity. We now know that pesticide use is resulting in increased rates of asthma and cancer. The only things we should be wrapping up our horses and sheep. What's that? A raw hide because we always say, right, so the main chemical component in roundup is glyphosate, which is worse than DDT. Of course we did a whole show about this. So people go back and listen to them. Yeah, it was very, very good to get info on that. So as I mentioned, Mike Novac, he calls himself the Green Divo, D, E v O. Are we not green? Are we not divo you know, the band band Divo, that's what he's referring to. Okay. Wow. There's a very small obscure group that gets that, but he's pretty persistent. So he has his own radio show, uh, the Mike Novak show with Peggy Malecki and he talks a lot about gardening, but even more about the environment and he's got a few things to say about why we need to give up this notion of having a fancy plush green.

Speaker 5:14:12Wow.

Speaker 3:14:21And one of the things I've talked about,

Speaker 6:14:2240 years is launched, you know, there's, there's some kind of imperative there and sociologist or anthropologist I guess would have us believe that because we were hunter gatherers, uh, on the Savanna, we like open spaces and there's some truth to that. And then there's the idea in America of the open space is a common area where people gathered, I get that to a trial, ms now we're in the 21st century and there's other things going on such as 7 billion people in the world and how do we grow our food? Um, and so some people have begun to think, well, maybe a lawn is not such a good idea after all, uh, especially given the way that we maintain our lawns with species that are not native to this country. And that require a lot of your inputs to stay healthy and happy. Although I would argue that as well because I'm, one of those guys says, you throw some compost and on your rolling moment for each it a good silky once a week and walk away and you're done.

Speaker 6:15:29That there's a lot of truth to that as well, but the point is sick. We rip out all of our launch and grow food while I'm standing here on my back porch and I have a tiny bit of law and in my backyard, but it's basically so I can walk around my garden in my bare feet. That's why I have it, but I'm looking at the clover growing in it and the violence, growing it and name we'd, it's there. Uh, uh. And, and I'm perfectly happy with it. It, it looks green desert conditions. Well, uh, I don't put anything on it at all. I, I, I should be, I should be putting more time. Was that it? Basically a button. I don't even do that very much because they don't care

Speaker 6:16:25where I was trying. I was trying to grow food here in my yard, in my neighbor. I've managed to talk my neighbor until letting me grow some food in her yard because she's got a lot of Sun. Uh, and I don't [inaudible] I made the mistake of planning a lot of trees, which I love, but it depended. It means you're not going to grow a lot of vegetables. A, the problem was that she was putting, we didn't see that on her lawn and uh, I. and I said, Hey, what are you doing? She says, well, I fertilizing and I said, can I see the bag please? And of course it says weed and feed. So she's thinking it's only fertilizer. And I know because I, I know how to read a label on a bag like that. It's not just fertilizer, it's two, four d or some other herbicide in there as well.

Speaker 6:17:17I like to call, you know, the reason they call it read and feed, that cute little name is because nobody would buy it if they called it synthetic fertility and poisoned. It's all about marketing. It's all about branding. I think a lot of folks don't know that when they're fertilizing, they're also putting down these poisons and they can affect your pets. They can affect your kids, they can affect you. They affect the biology in the soil and on the pollinators, on and on and on to some. I mean, they're not targeted for pollinators, but again, there's often collateral damage is what I'm going to say to, to put it very broadly. So how do we change the paradigm? And one of the things that I've come across recently is that recently this has been happening for awhile, is that people will, they will decide they're going to be the ones that are going to be the ones in the neighborhood.

Speaker 6:18:14They're going to change the paradigm. They're going to plant vegetables, let's say in their front yard because that's where they have the space at. All it takes is one neighbor to file a complaint and say, I don't like that they're. And they don't know why they don't like it. They just don't like it. And suddenly you've got inspectors out there saying, well, what are you doing here? Uh, is, is, uh, you know, the, the ordinance says that you can't have anything above 10 inches high. You know, in the ordinance is written for a lot of the tyranny of the launch. And in our society.

Speaker 3:19:00And here we have some fun facts about green lawns. There are three different types of grass there, bull rushes, sedges and grasses. The most common in the US is Polo Ac. Yes. We were yelled in to our ears by the computer and trying to figure out the pronunciation of it. My ears are still bleeding from that. He grasses which are most common here in the US and there's also many invasive grasses including Japanese stilt grass which can take over your lawn and they have almost completely taken over my lawn. So trying to get rid of them is tough. So we also have to figure out invasive things. How do we get rid of them or should we let them be invasive? I don't know what to do. It's an interesting question. The most popular lawn decorations are pink flamingos really giving a shout out to John Waters.

Speaker 3:19:56One of the most insane movies ever made a but shops in the u s sell around 250,000 pink flamingos sets each year on a more serious, not as fun. Note out of the 30 commonly used pesticides on lawns 19 are linked with cancer. Uh, 13 are linked with birth defects. Twenty one with reproductive effects, 26 with liver or kidney damage. 15 with neurotoxicity and 11 with disruption of the endocrine or hormonal systems. Okay. Wow. So that's 30 lawn pesticides. Wow. Wow. Wow. Um, and if the same 30 pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater, 23 have the ability to leach into drinking water sources. Twenty four are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms vital to our ecosystem. 11 are toxic to bees and 16 are toxic to birds. And this is from a post that we had done a that was by Gd. Mike Novac. That's green dude.

Speaker 3:21:13Oh my God. That is crazy. And then of course golf courses are adding two droughts in many states as excessive amounts of water are used to keep the golf course green. Sorry Wayne. Dude, when. Well, you know, we got to really be thinking about this a lot more than than we do. It's nice to be in the links, but at what cost, unless they can re circulate it, there's ways they can probably solve these issues. Perhaps we can do a little searching. Uh, so in the summer, about 238 gallons of water is used per household on lawns. Again, think of the waste of this precious commodity in the US because we use over 7 billion gallons of water each year for outdoor watering. That's 30 percent of our water supply. Isn't that crazy? Yeah. We posted, that's from a post on the green diva site that we did a couple of years ago. It's probably sadly more, but that was from 2014 or 15. Wow. And it's got to be absolutely more than that. Yeah. And then there is bottled water. Wow. A lot of people drinking out of bottled water and a lot of these water companies using wells where they shouldn't be using them. I mean, if we're talking about drought and all of that, please just cut it, cut it with the bottled water. You can fill up your own bottle. Stop.

Speaker 3:22:44In case you didn't know. I started a new podcast series called God spirit pub with my longtime bestie, Julie Bond Genovese, also known as need greeny. Julie. She named herself that, by the way. Uh, it's an ongoing open conversation about spirituality, not religion. Uh, we've been exploring almost everything over the last 30 years when it comes to spirituality, spiritual seeking, but we're still learning, so I hope you'll check it out. Meanwhile, pretty much every week Julie calls me all excited because she's discovered some new awesome so-called weed in her garden that is edible and she's big. She's been experimenting with wild edibles from her yard. And so she's like getting, our husband is barely knowing anything because she's like, no, no, no, that's the clover. She's been eating the clover and there's plantation. Uh, there's all kinds of crazy, fun things that she keeps discovering. She uses them for her smoothies or salads or Saute it up even so far.

Speaker 3:23:54I'm serious. Show sheet a couple of days ago called me and we were about to do the show. So she was like, oh my God. I discovered. I said, oh, I got to hear this. Well, it's good to have diversity on your lawn. Like it's, you know, diversity and everything is important. So just these grasses, po AC, but we also clover and other plant and other grasses that you can have on your lawn that in any can you just mix it up and it's. And it looks beautiful where I live. So anyway. Well let's hear some from weaning. Greening Julie.

Speaker 5:24:36So tell

Speaker 7:24:37us about your magical edible yard is so magical and it started back six, seven years ago. I was at a very groovy conference and they served green smoothies every morning. I was so impressed that I got home, got a blender and started making green smoothies and then realized, oh, I can grow my Kale and colored and learned that I could eat the broccoli leaves, I could eat all kinds of leaves out there, thought that was heaven. But it got better because as of two years ago realized these other plants seem to be a whole lot heartier and stronger quote unquote weeds. And my husband noticed that I was averse to weeding and um, yeah, he wasn't happy about that. He's like, you're really good at the harvesting, but the maintenance not so much. And I actually have guilt when I pull plants, I do. So that led me to look at what is this thing that is covering the ground, which turned out to be purslane, which is very edible and wonderful for you.

Speaker 7:25:56And no matter what you do, it will come up and it will cover the dirt that otherwise can't be used. It also comes out of the Macadam. It will reclaim anything. The power of Mother Nature. Then I'm always knew about dandelions. Of course never want to do eat them though because they're so bitter. So I just threw two leaves in my smoothie to see if would it ruin it. And then three and then four. And before I knew it, it was all handful. And then discovered plantation, which is like everywhere. It's broad leafed. The big green leaves, you know, look it up on Google and, and it grows everywhere. You can mow it down, cut it down, dig it out, and it will still come back. And all of that reminded me of what I've learned years ago from macrobiotics, which was that as we eat these plants, whatever they are, we are taking in their energy and their qualities, not just they're beautiful vitamins and minerals, but, but these weeds are resilient. They've seen every season they've seen drought, they've seen flood, they've seen it all. And according to Anthony Williams at Hay House, medical medium, um, they essentially have incredibly strong DNA and they pass on that, um, natural immunity that strength to us.

Speaker 8:27:32Oh,

Speaker 3:27:43alright. So it's time for our final words of wisdom, commentary, quotes and poems, poems. You like poems, Gb Max has a poem for you. I do because we like to keep this in line with our, our topic. So this is called grass by Joyce Sigmund. I grow in places others can't, where wind is high and water scant. I drink the rain, I eat the sun before the prairie winds. I run, I see. I sprout, I grow, I creep. And in the ice and snow, I sleep nice. Nice. I found this quote that felt timely, inappropriate by Michelle Obama. She said, I'm worked with Congress on legislation, gave speeches to ceos, military generals and Hollywood executives, but I also work to ensure that my efforts would resonate with kids and families and that meant doing things in a creative and unconventional way. So yeah, I planted a garden and Hula hooped on the White House lawn with kids

Speaker 1:28:57and listening to the 50 shades of green, a collaborative gig between the green devos and the many shades of green radio shows happily recorded at green diva studio. Be Sure to look for this and other green diva network podcasts and the many shades of green on iheart radio, itunes, soundcloud, spreaker and stitcher. Among other places, you can find more information about this show and much more on the green devos.com.

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