Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD — Fairfield residents are invited to participate in a forum Friday night about whether the city should change its ordinance on lawn mowing.
The forum is from 7-9 p.m. at the Fairfield Public Library, and will be hosted by Fairfield resident Chris Sorflaten.
Sorflaten spoke before the Fairfield City Council in October about his desire to give residents the option of not mowing their lawns, and now he is inviting public feedback on the idea at Friday night’s forum.
Sorflaten said he owns three properties in town, and that he has delineated patch of ground in those properties where he does not mow, having turned them into a garden or a patch of long grass.
“I’ll weed out the plants I don’t like such as burrs, poison ivy and ragweed,” he said. “In the older parts of town, there are still a lot of native seeds in the soil, and when you stop mowing the grass, you get all kinds of Aster wildflowers. You see a lot of native bumblebees and butterflies, and it’s so great to see those insects coming back.”
Sorflaten said that not mowing also cools a property since the grass doesn’t dry out as fast and can retain more soil moisture.
“With short grass, the sun can bake the soil,” he said.
Sorflaten said he knows he’s fighting an uphill battle. He said he’s aware that a well-manicured lawn is a source of pride for many people, and that some believe the presence of unkempt yards will stop people from moving to town. However, he wants to challenge those ideas. He believes the freedom to not mow could actually be a selling point for the city.
“A lot of us have pride in tall grass,” he said. “And a lot of people moving here are from California, and are super ecological people. One woman living across the street doesn’t want to mow, either.”
Sorflaten is allowing his own yard to grow. He has put up a sign that reads “Native Garden — Do Not Mow.” He said he knows his position might not be popular, but he hopes that he can sway public opinion.
“Why do you insist on having a law on the books that other people have to mow?” he said. “And what percent of people will really let their lawns grow? I don’t know, but it’s probably between 1-5 percent.”
Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org