Does Your Landscape Need A Lawn?

by Ben Bowen

I have never been accused of being a trendsetter. Yes, I did have a pair of chunky 'Madmen' style glasses before everyone else, but I was 12 and also had an overbite and knee braces. Middle School was rough... 

So, when I highlight a landscape tend it's not to start one. I am just shining a light on what I am seeing in my area. And this spring, it seems that every other landscape consultation involves the same issue: how to reduce or eliminate a lawn. 

Why Lawns Are Going

Academic Adam Grant claims that people can be categorized, generally speaking, as Givers, Matchers, or Takers. Lawns are Takers. 

Lawns take space. Lawns take fertilizer. Lawns take water. Lawns take mowing, edging, thatching, aerating, lime, iron.... You get the picture. Some cities are even paying people to remove lawns!

Lawns are not evil and they don't have to be environmentally unfriendly. More and more people, however, are finding that large swaths of turf just don't fit their lifestyle.

Who am I to argue with that? 

How To Reduce The Size Of Your Lawn

A dry creek can become the new focal point of a beautiful lawn-free landscape. 

A dry creek can become the new focal point of a beautiful lawn-free landscape. 

For some, the solution is lawn reduction. Less maintenance, less water but still a place to lay a picnic blanket or for the dog to do his business. 

The first step is decide how large your lawn should be. What do you use your lawn for? How much time and money can you spend on the replacement? Use marking paint to draw out the desired contour of your new, svelte, lawn. 

Get to work removing that grass. You can be old-fashioned and use a shovel and pick. If you have a large area of grass to remove you should consider renting a sod cutter or hiring a professional. Removing lawn is hard work! 

Your lawn is reduced or eliminated. Now what? 

Ideas For Replacing Your Lawn

Once the lawn is gone you will have hole in your landscape. How to fill it? 

A modern approach to lawn removal.

A modern approach to lawn removal.

  • Plants. Depending on the size and proportions of your yard, you may be able to fill the vacated area with new plant material. Choosing drought tolerant or native plant material will ensure you drastically reduce the water your yard uses.
  • Hardscape. If the area is very large you will find that you have a design challenge. It is likely that your lawn was anchoring your landscape. It was the focal point, all your planting beds were created by the lawn's existence. If you just fill the space with plants it won't make any sense. Use boulders, a dry creek, an informal patio to give your landscape the focus it needs. 
  • Raised Beds.  Mowing may not be your thing, but gardening can be. Replace your useless (to you) lawn with raised beds filled with organic garden soil. Instead of lawn clippings and grass stains you can harvest kale, corn, thyme, and whatever else your heart desires.
  • Water Feature.  Swap the roar of a mower for the soothing sounds of running water. And did you know that a well designed water feature uses less water that a lawn of comparable size?
  • Artificial Grass. Want the look and functionality of lawn, but not all the other baggage? Just be sure to count the cost first! Fake grass has very definite pro's and con's.

Not attached to your lawn? Tired of mowing and watering? Join the sustainable landscaping movement and downsize your lawn. Be really bold and remove it completely. You may surprised how fantastic your landscape could be, lawn free.