In my previous garden, I had been doing my best to colonize the grass for more ornamental plantings. I've been in gardens that had already evolved a long way in that direction I'm thinking in particular of one garden in North Carolina where what was once a sweep of suburban lawn had evolved into a labyrinth of berms and island beds. But most of us don't want to do without a lawn entirely, and most gardeners have to share their turf (so to speak) with romping dogs, soccer-playing children or lawn sports fans (croquet or badminton, anyone?) Paul Tukey's message in The Organic Lawn Care Manual is that a lawn doesn't need to be chemically dependent any more than a flower or vegetable bed does. You might not expect to hear right plant, right place in a lawn care book, but there it is. The essentials for a healthy organic lawn, Tukey suggests: Choose the right grass, water wisely, mow well. Beyond that, the same concepts apply whether you're cultivating tulips, tomatoes or turf, and we'd all do well to listen. Nurture the soil; it will nurture your plants, and they in turn will nurture you.

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