My kind of guy: the dandelion king



Mainly, he just can’t be bothered. In the New York
Times today
, opinionator Robert Wright states that:

my eco-friendly ethos dovetails suspiciously with my
laziness. Waging a war on weeds takes more time and energy (or money, if you
outsource it) than just mowing the lawn every once in awhile. … for me, the
practical way to have an eco-friendly lawn is to have a weedy lawn.

Wright has a lot more to say, some of it stuff that you’ve read
here or on other sites that address the problems with lawn maintenance and
sustainable gardening practice. I just like Wright’s attitude. 

One thing he does repeat a few
times is that he feels apologetic about lowering his neighbors’ property
values. I’ve heard this kind of talk lots of times, and I have to wonder how
true it is. It’s not like he is raising an impenetrable thicket in front of his
house; he is mowing. Personally, I don’t think a few dandelions would affect
the price of your neighbor’s house. (And I’m also not claiming that leaving weeds in and mowing in the best sustainable practice. )

Regardless, I love it when people who are not obsessed with
gardening and gardening practice, as we are, write so accessibly and sensibly about it. My father didn’t bother with our dandelions for the same reason.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Yes, I loved it, too, and agree with you that weeds alone aren’t going to affect property values. Green and mowed should be more than good enough for the neighbors.

  2. That’s exact reason I bought a home without a homeowner’s association. People put too much energy into things that just don’t make sense. I’m not saying let your place fall into total neglect, but chasing down dandelions just isn’t rewarding enough to justify the time spent (for me.)

  3. I agree with Robert Wright on every point. Plus, dandelions are a great early-season source of nectar and pollen for the poor suffering honey bees. So think of the bees before you yank out that dandelion!

  4. Susan and I made nearly identical comments on this article letting folks know about the lawn reform coalition at I am commenter #165, Susan is a couple of pages earlier.

    What is exciting to me is all the positive comments. When I made my comment at 7am this morning, no comments were posted. Now at 5pm, there are 239 comments. Maybe at the 40th anniversary of Earth Day we are making progress…

  5. Our chickens LOVE dandelion greens so we view dandelions as nature’s free chicken feed (not to mention they go well with mesclun).

  6. I recently had to take a new route due to a bridge replacement over a small stream. This alternate route took me through an older part of Hazelwood, NC. The neighborhood was small older homes on small lots in a “seedy” section of town.

    There were several of the most gorgeous unmowed spring lawns I have ever seen in this neighborhood. They were filled with violets, muscari and dandelions that I could ID while driving by. I am sure there were other spring flowering plants in these lawns. They were truly beautiful carpets of flowers mixed in with the lawns.

    The next time I drove by some of them had been mowed and wrecked the whole thing. Couldn’t they have waited just a bit longer to mow?

  7. I just spotted dandelions here at a nursery in Japan being sold with herbs and vegetables. Right next to the arugula, fennel, and not too far from cucumbers, tomatoes, and eggplants. I nearly bought it just because it made me smile. It is an edible green, after all.

  8. A story I heard a few years ago: We get a lot of foreign students here; some (newly-arrived) grad students from Japan commented on all the work some people did with their lawns, and how lovely they were with all of those beautiful yellow flowers…!

    Works for me:)

  9. When I bought my house last year, one of the first neighbors to come over to introduce herself was a lady across the street who devotes a lot of time to keeping her front yard very neat. She asked when I was going to improve the lawn, and blanched when I told her it was coming out for water-conservation purposes, hopefully within a year. She and the sweet lady next to me w/ the pristine chemical-laden putting green front and side yards reported me to the police for my weeds, back in February. I take an approach like Mr. Wright does. I leave it be and keep it mowed as I’m gradually yanking out sod in rows, and saving up cardboard so I can sheet mulch the weedy sod and then landscape all of it next year once the weeds have smothered.

    And yes, some of the weeds are free feed for the chickens. Unfortunately, I can’t just walk the hens out to the front and have them graze and scratch in the evenings, because then I’d be reported for the chickens.

    Have sunflowers, corn and sorghum planned for the rows where I’m digging up and removing the sod. And then hops planned for along the walkway.

    They should be glad I don’t have a car on the lawn, really.

  10. My weekend chore was transplanting violets, glory-of-the-snow, spring beauties to the side lawn where the grass has been thining out as the tulip popler gets larger and larger. I tell my husband not to mow this area as much as the rest of the lawn. You know, he finally learned to say “yes dear” when it comes to the garden.

  11. What a horror to have to live where your neighbours can tell you what to do about your own property. I have pristine poisoned lawns either side of me and consider it my duty and pleasure to provide the bees with a refuge in my aspiring ‘One Straw’ yard. I plant heirloom dandelion seeds too. One neighbour, bless his heart, offered me his old lawn mower when they moved to a penthouse…I thanked him sincerely but showed him my perfectly good one that had rarely seen the light of day. He was shocked to think I didnt mow out of preference not poverty. lol.

  12. I don’t put anything on my lawn. The clippings get used as mulch and compost for the garden. My kids play on that lawn too! I don’t want anything that might not be good for them.

  13. I forgot to mention, before the neighborhood cats decided my weedy front lawn was a preferred public latrine, last year, I’d mow the greenery and toss it into the chicken run. The girls literally did a happy dance with all kinds of giggly clucking and wiggling.

    If you don’t treat your lawn with anything, save the clippings for a friend with chickens.

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