Honestly, perfectly-manicured lawns are energy hogs. They require mowing and extra water, fertilizer and sometimes get problems like grubs or fungus that need extra attention. But what better place to run and play, sit and eat a picnic and to frame beautiful gardens then a lawn?
Lawns must satisfy some deep-seated desire in people to be able to see everything that is immediately around their homes as everyone seems to have a lawn. In some towns, it is illegal not to have one! Close cropped grass leaves no mystery as to what scary animal might be lurking behind a big plant or tree and must make us feel more secure. Who wants their pets, children and possibly their drinking water to be subjected to harsh fertilizers and chemicals that are used in traditional commercial lawn care? Just like with every garden, if you start with healthy soil, your lawn will be much more resilient to drought and disease and easier to care for.
On that note, I am a fan of minimizing lawn areas or using ground covers in their place. Add gardens to your lawn where you don't use it! Dig up parts of that perfect green carpet and plant some hardy perennials, shrubs and trees. All that you will most likely attract are butterflies, birds and possibly deer! Creeping thyme never needs to get mowed, is drought resistant and blooms pink in the late spring! There are many alternatives to classic Bluegrass/ Rye lawns. There are even different strains of grass that will hold up better in specific areas and require less maintenance.
And one last note, it is OK to let your lawn get a bit long sometimes. You just don't want to cut off more then 50% at a time unless you are haying it. Some old techniques that look great are just mowing around the perimeter to keep those areas around the house and gardens short while letting the middle grow and cutting it every other or third mowing. You will save a lot of money in the long run, and with these crazy oil prices, that is a great thing for your wallet and probably the atmosphere as well!