Get Out There

Save Yourself a Headache and Get Rid of Your Lawn

Do you hate mowing your lawn? Is it killing your water bill? Do drought rules mean you can’t water it, and it dies every summer? Get rid of it.

We talk a lot about the joys of gardening and the pleasure of being outside. But there are no rules about what a yard should be like. Maintaining a perfect lawn might be part of the classic American dream. But it’s costly, bad for the environment and a time suck.

For many retired people, lawns can become a point of pride. “It’s the status symbol of leisure, that you have time to care for these landscapes,” says Susannah Lerman, a research ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service.

But, for many parts of the U.S., lawns aren’t actually native. That’s why they take so much effort. They require a lot of water. As droughts become more common, that’s a problem. And, even if a drought isn’t a problem in your area, it’s still time out of your day you could enjoy doing other things. In 2020 people in the U.S. spent $150 billion keeping their lawns green and trimmed. Between water, pesticide, fertilizer and mowing, you spend a lot on that green stretch.

There are a few options regarding what to do to your lawn. You could turn it all into a garden. Or, add mulch and cover it in native wildflower seeds that require much less water and that pollinators — including butterflies — will love. You’ll have a gorgeous green spot that’s great for the environment and easy on your wallet. You can also look into native grasses for your area to learn more about what will thrive in your area without much effort.  

Laurie Silvia changed her yard from a lawn into a meadow of grasses and wildflowers. “Most of us grow up with the (notion) lawn has to be green and has to be perfect,” Silvia said. “The hardest thing is letting go of these ideas we have.”

Her more wild yard has attracted foxes, turkeys, rabbits and birds while cutting down mowing time dramatically. “We don’t have go on a hike to see nature; we’re bringing it into our yard.”

She encouraged others to follow in her footsteps, saying, “Just let yourself go and be free to color outside the lines.”

Some states simply won’t let it be an option; people will have to make a change. Nevada is making banning lawns. Decorative grass must be removed by 2026.  

Consider artificial turf if you love having a lawn but hate the effort or fear hosepipe bans. It has made huge improvements over the years. It’s no longer just a thin carpet. And while it is plastic and therefore has environmental drawbacks in its own ways, it doesn’t require watering and maintenance and gives you a place for lounging with a book or eating outdoors.  

Banner image: Petar Tonchev via Unsplash

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