Plant diversity is important in the long term for soil fertility and primary production, according to new research. So species extinctions will do far more long term damage than we imagined. Plant Diversity Is Key to Maintaining Productive Vegetation
The long-term study of plant biodiversity found that each species plays a role in maintaining a productive ecosystem, especially when a long time horizon is considered.
The research found that every additional species in a plot contributed to a gradual increase in both soil fertility and biomass production over a 14-year period.
Thanks for posting this Ruth.
It's interesting, I looked for a "natural lawn" that contained multi species - not just grasses - and couldn't find it. I've been going to a diverse lawn, leaving in anything that stays fairly small or is mowable. I do pull dandelions and plaintain weed to feed the chickens. I don't know the names of the plants in my lawn. There are multiple types of grasses, clovers, violets, mints, and tiny-leafed weeds. This time of year it is quite lush, but since I don't water in the summer, it goes brown. It's my attempt at a diverse ecosystem. The rest of my yard is highly diverse, probably hundreds of species. It's a mess, but it's my mess.
The Japanese have a word I like, "Shibui" which means perfectly imperfect. I like the way you talk about your garden and the feeling you convey.
The deeper rooted perennials will stay green longer during drought than annual grasses. That's a green strategy.
Steph, do you have lecture notes that are sharable? I would very much like to read what you taught.
I eliminated the grass years ago and now have mostly native plants. They take less water and don't require obnoxious mowing and weeding. The city I live in will pay $0.050/sq ft up to $500 for residents who replace their laws with water efficient landscapes including climate appropriate plants. Here is the US EPA Landscaping with Native Plants web site. A friend of mine tore his grass out and planted all edible plants. He has 15-18 fruit trees in his yard - in a typical residential neighborhood with a small yard. He hopes he will be able to supply all his own vegetables. I wonder if a prairie grass seed mix is available for lawns.
Chris, fruit trees are a great choice for a home yard. By keeping them pruned small, it's amazing how many you can grow. The fruit tastes so much better than store bought, it's like they are not the same food. By growing a variety of fruits, they ripen over a long period of time, spreading out the benefit. By last count, I had about 35 in my yard. It does require that the gardener needs to enjoy maintaining them, otherwise it's a big chore. I do enjoy it.
That's great. I live on a granite rock making it difficult to dig, so I only have 4 fruit trees.