Cut your lawn ... in half!

So says the National Wildlife Federation. We went further than half.

Why did we get rid of (almost) all of our lawn? Because it has almost no habitat value. And to get that perfect, velvety, uniform carpet of green requires chemical fertilizers, pesticides, etc., etc. To keep it lush and green in the summer requires using valuable water. You have to rake the leaves in the fall so they won't kill the lawn in the winter. And those lawn mowers and other power lawn equipment are noisy, heavily polluting devices—more so than cars!

AND it's so boring!!!

Our front yard

Front lawn ©Janet AllenPretty much the only lawn we have

We have a small lawn in front, but most of the front yard has trees, shrubs, planting beds, and a system of paths. We have no lawn at all in the back yard.

Our lawn is really just big enough to provide space for a few chairs and to show that organic, minimal lawn care actually works.

Grandson running along path ©Janet AllenGrandson running along path

But lawn can serve a function: you can walk on it to get to different parts of your yard. Without lawn, what do you walk on to get around your yard?

For us, the solution has been a network of paths. Originally we put landscape cloth on the paths and covered them with mulch from the county mulch pile, but we soon learned (as many other people have) that landscape cloth isn't what it's cracked up to be. It just doesn't do much good. We pulled it all out (not as easy as laying it down originally), and now we just have a thick layer of wood chips. We replenish this mulch layer every few years (though see the concerns about mulch).

So far these paths have worked out really well. All parts of our yard are connected, yet the maximum amount of useful, life-supporting plants are growing.

A bonus is that it's very pleasant walking the paths through the flowers, shrubs, and trees. As more than one person has commented, it's hard to believe you're in the suburbs. Clearly, our grandson enjoys it!

View of backyard from roof(Enlarge) ©Janet Allen
View of backyard from roof

In the back yard, we have our edible garden, more habitat garden, and ponds—but no lawn. We've been very happy with paths.

Getting rid of the lawn

Reducing the lawn gradually ©Janet AllenReducing the lawn gradually

How do you get rid of lawn? At first, when John (like many men for some reason) was still unwilling to give up lawn, I "neatened up the edges" frequently—always in the direction of taking out more lawn.

Killing lawn with plastic ©Janet AllenKilling lawn with plastic

Later, when we intentionally went about getting rid of the lawn, we covered it with black plastic over the winter. It wasn't totally successful, but it made it easier to dig up the following spring. We saved all the sod and it became even more beautiful topsoil.

Too late, I learned that the easiest way to get rid of lawn is to lay down thick sections of newspaper and cover it with many inches of mulch. Then you can plant right through it.

No lawn, no raking ©Janet AllenNo Lawn, No Raking

And one final benefit of having very little lawn is that it dramatically reduces the amount of raking needed in the fall.

Pretty much everything else except lawn does well with a natural blanket of leaves.

(Feel free to download and laminate my No Lawn, No Raking sign.)