In the last week or so, we’ve seen numerous articles urging us to “do something” about Reforestation, the process of replenishing natural growing forests and restoring the environment. Living on the edge of a forest myself, I can share with you that reforestation is easier than falling off the proverbial log. Just quit mowing your yard.
I moved to a rural area of East Tennessee about twenty years ago. I’ve had the pleasure of watching in awe as former pasture land has become a forest again. Out of 34 acres, we (and by “we” I mean my husband and his tractor) only mow a small area immediately around our house and the edges of the meadows beside the driveways. On occasion, my husband bushhogs a portion of a large meadow in front of the house so the Scouts can camp and have outdoor events on our land. But otherwise, we’ve intentionally let the place go back to nature.
When you don’t mow, the first thing you get is a meadow. And having a meadow means you have fresh wildflowers growing around your house, practically year-round. Here in Tennessee, we have violets growing even in December and January. Then come the buttercups of springtime and several varieties of daisies throughout the late spring and summer. Later in the year, you have majestic purple thistles and black-eyed Susans. Once your meadow gets established, you might even get fresh blackberries in July that you can simply walk out and pick, popping them into your mouth without a trip to the grocery store.
Within this meadow, there are baby trees, little seedlings that spring up naturally without you having to do anything at all. First come the pine trees. Eventually, the hardwood trees sprout out, crowding out the Pines and providing shade, beauty, and a healthy environment for you and all the critters that live with you. When you refrain from mowing, these little trees have a chance to grow. You may have oak trees planted in your yard already, stashed underground by squirrels, but when you mow your yard, you’re literally mowing down any chance of letting a forest grow right under your nose.
One of my neighbors regularly moans and groans about having to use a little riding mower to cut the grass in his large yard down to a perfectly manicured one inch high, uniformly green carpet. He gets hot, sweaty, and bored to tears. It’s miserable work. But as I tell him, “just say no.” You’re doing yourself and the environment no favors at all with all that mowing.
If you want to do something about the environment and climate change, just say no to mowing. Yes, your neighbors may fuss, and you might have to go to bat against your homeowners’ association. But the upside? Flowers, bees, butterflies, and shade trees. And you can sit and watch it all, sipping a nice iced tea, instead of getting sweaty and sunburned on the mower.
Reforestation is unbelievable easy, and all you have to do is…nothing. In a healthy environment, trees plant themselves.
Cynthia Coe is the author of Considering Birds & Lilies: Finding Peace & Harmony with the Everyday World Around Us, available in paperback and on Kindle, included in Kindle Unlimited.