On a hot day, the last thing most homesteaders want to do is mow the lawn. On a multi-acre property, mowing the grass could even be a multi-day affair. Wouldn’t it be great if there was grass that never needed mowing? While grass seed companies are developing and testing genetically-modified slow growing grass seed, it’s possible to select traditional grass seeds that look great without mowing.
Plant scientist Joanne Chory at the Salk Institute has identified hormones called brassinosteroids that regulate the growth of plants. Chory’s team found that manipulating the release of these hormones could spur plant growth while removing them resulted in dwarf plants that were still green and lush. Unfortunately, brassinosteroids also control pollen production, so a genetically-modified dwarf grass seed would need to be re-seeded each fall. Instead, several companies market proprietary grass mixes that grow so slowly that they need not be mowed at all. No-mow grass mix is a combination of Hard Fescue, Sheep Fescue, Chewing Fescue, Red Fescue and Creeping Red Fescues – a tough seed that sends deep roots a foot or deeper into your soil. These deep roots mean that a fescue lawn also needs less water, as the roots capture more moisture. They also help block weed growth and require less fertilizer than a traditional turf lawn – and minimizing fertilizer run-off will help keep your fishing pond healthy.
Fine fescue grass thrives in shady areas but also does well in sunny meadows, as the fine grasses lay flat mid-summer if not mowed. This looks disimilar enough from turf lawns that you may consider maintaining a segment of more traditional grass around the home – especially if you have kids or dogs – since fescues don’t stand up to foot traffic as well as rye or bluegrass. Seed a small enough area to keep mowing quick – though enough to still enjoy a cold beer afterwards!