Once upon a time, my front yard  was all lawn. No fence, no shrubs, no flowers.
 
 

What That Green Lawn Costs You and The Environment

 

I admit it.... I am totally anti-lawn.

The EPA estimates that the amount of pollution emitted by a lawnmower operating for one hour  is equivalent to the amount of pollution emitted by a car driven for approximately 20 miles.

And - The National Wildlife Federation states that: 

-30 to 60 percent of urban fresh water is used for watering lawns (depending on city).
-millions spent on fossil fuel-derived fertilizers for lawns.
-millions of pounds of synthetic pesticides are used
-about half a million gallons of gasoline are used for lawnmowers.
-Billions spent for the lawn care industry.
-millions spent for pesticides

Approximately 20 million acres in the U.S. are planted as residential lawn.

Areas of lawn that include only one type of plant, such as grass, offer little habitat value for wildlife.

Most people don't use their front or backyards for living and growing. 
Because lawns are an outdated post-war status symbol of affluence, we still hesitate to give it up.

My solution to the problem -  Clover lawn it Instead, if you feel the need for an expanse of green. 
Design a water-wise Garden.

Better yet, go totally lawnless and use mulches, hardscapes, native plants and grasses as specimens.
Use solar powered lighting and fountains for pretty water features that recycle water, with no energy use.
Enjoy your frontyard. Don't just cut grass and look at the lawn.

Try xeriscaping with stone,  boulders, driftwood, branches and native plants.
Use raised garden beds for multi-level landscaping and food production.
Use trellises and vines, or your own fence to grow food for you and the wildlife, 
or a floral landscape for scent and colors.

 

I had inherited someone's nasty and neglected backyard lawn full of weeds, a ditch ran all along the backyard, and big bald spots that are mostly gulf sand instead of soil ..if you have a fenced-in yard, are not close to neighbors who might get a stray clover or 2, and have no HOA to mess with your head, you can replace the lawn or parts of it with white dutch clover. It contains an enormous amount of nitrogen, fertilizes the soil, it's used by many  as cover crops and tilled under, or left to grow by gardeners as a sweet-smelling lawn.

I have substituted most of the backyard grass and weeds with clover within 3 fall seasons (zone 8 and 5) of broadcasting the seeds thickly once a month for three months in the fall.. No fighting or trying to eliminate the lawn, just ignoring it. No more food, no more water, no chemicals for you! Clover seed is available at places that sell food lot seeds.
 
 
 
Creating a Clover Lawn
 - No Fuss, it smells wonderful when cut, 
and you get happy bees pollinating your garden.
 
Just fling handfuls of the seeds around just before a rain. i don't scratch it in, i just walk over it. 

The white clover reaches only about 2- 8 inches high. i cut it with a reel mower (because i love the smell and sometimes i cut more often just to smell it!) you leave the cuttings and they mulch and fertilize your soil some more with tons of nitrogen. The seeds become hardy seedlings very quickly.

The grown plants produce thick green cover, eliminates most of your weeds, and eventually naturally takes over the needier lawn grass. Survival of the fittest. The nitrogen feeds shrubs and flowers planted around and in it, as well. It's a soft airy cover that does not choke out or compete with shrubs or perrennials, in my experience. Most grass seed mixes have clover seed in it as a filler.It's tough, needs no care, goes through droughts then springs back with just rain showers. Mine in zone 8 doesn't go brown with the grass. If sown tightly, in a few days after a rain the seedlings are already happening. The mature clover has pretty shamrock type leaves and grows in "drifts" and is soft and cool to walk on.

 
Clover is also grown as wildlife forage by farmers and landowners. Of all the clovers, the dutch white variety is probably best as lawns. It's shorter and grows thicker. It needs no extra watering, fertilizer or care whatsoever. I haven't found it to be invasive or wandering off beyond my fence areas or other boundaries. I don't need to cut it much because it's only about 3 inches tall - which is the height i kept my lawn.

 

Good Reasons To Eliminate That Needy Expanse of Lawn
Xeriscaping for water preservation and wildlife habitats

This is my gone lawn... first and second seasons. xeriscaped and very zen

 

You'd never guess there was once only a lawn here...
dig up the grass, lay down landscape fabric, then 
add plants, add rocks/pebbles, soft mulches on top.

Rose of Sharon grows pretty fast, and needs no care, 
except for trimming to your specifications.

 

The former lawn is now a landscaped/hardscaped garden, with river rock, pea gravel paths,  mulched with pine straw 
and shredded wood. Juniper, jasmine and other groundcovers. Soaker hoses are buried under the mulches. 
Water savings: about 90 percent.

 

• Save time and money that you would normally spend on mowing and fertilizing grass, and enjoy your yard and gardens.
• Provide habitat and food for wildlife. Birdfeeders, birdbaths are very busy all day. I leave plant hooks and branches nearby that the birds use as perches. I also use floating solar fountain pumps in the bowls of the birdbaths. The birds love it. I leave a few of the sunflower seeds that sprout under the feeders for pretty flowers and seed heads for the birds in the fall.
• Conserve water.
• Reduce lawn mower pollution and decrease run-off from fertilizers and pesticides.

 

Reduce Your Lawn - And Help The Pollinators and Wildlife

 

Lawn Gone - The new xeriscape begins
 Tennessee flagstone path, mulches, atlas cedar tree, spreading junipers

All of these scapes replaced my useless 1/4 acre of lawn.

white pea gravel as a mulch, and achillea growing where once was lawn. These are bee and butterfly magnets.

90% of the lawn is gone... A water-wise decoratiive front garden takes its place. More "after" photos below.

Use native plant species as ground cover instead of grass. I use a lot of decorative low-growing, drought resistant grasses as ground    cover and white dutch clover, and evergreen ground covers as well. 
Round puffs of "Elijah Blue" festucca looks awesome for texture and Zen, if it grows in your region.


• Plant native trees and shrubs. Check for plants hardy and native to your region.
• Create a water garden, bog or pond, and rock gardens
• Use mulch to conserve water, and create paths with hard and soft-scape mulching materials instead of grass.
• Provide meadow,  prairie patches, and hedgerows
• Plant an organic vegetable garden
• Create a butterfly or hummingbird garden
•  Encourage the native plants and replace exotic invasive species with native ones.

Use soaker and drip hoses to save 90% of your water usage and direct water at the roots - where plants need it. 
Not evaporated by using sprinklers and spraying water all around, with not every plant getting water at the roots.


The native plants will be naturals for xeriscaping - they can survive drought and insect attack.

Mulch saves water, reduces weeds and prevents erosion. Use organic mulch to improve the soil with nutrients and increase water-holding capacity.

 Use gravel, river rock, and other decorative stones to add interest and eliminate weeds.

You don't have to do it all at once... you can convert a large section at a time each season, and plant it with flowers and shrubs. 

Hint: Get the larger, more mature plants, and get them at a plant nursery if you wish to see big results in a couple of seasons. I get no less than 1 gallon size for shrubs and 1 quart size for flowers. They're stronger, and more able to take transplant shock and bad weather. It's worth every penny not to plant teeny seedlings or seeds to start your landscape. Don't buy your plants at home centers, go to the source for expert advice and healthy plants. The nurseries also do not practice unsafe pesticide use or deal in GMO plants.

This is the view from my bedroom window instead of an empty expanse of front lawn. 
Fragrant Gardenia, Nandina, Sweet Olive, dwarf holly, and Lorapetalum. A fence added for Zen

 

Fragrant Sweetspire blooms
- not a blade of grass left to be cut.

 

If you decide on a clover lawn, buy a reel mower. That's what I did. 
I left some of my shady backyard with clover as the lawn. I mow it infrequently.
It's great exercise, it's not mindless or tedioius  work, (some of my most awesome brainstorms occur while i mow) it slows you down to enjoy nature and your garden, and the only smell is the sweetness of cut clover, flowers and herbs, not gas and fumes. I call it my outdoor Nautilus machine for keeping in shape. 
It's also very nostalgic. You can find old ones at yard sales and flea markets to use or add as a garden statement.

 

Getting The Lawn Gone, and a flower bed prepared. A section at a time... 
The "Lasagna Method" - Foolproof weed and grass-killer.

1. Cover  grass with 10 or more l ayers of newspaper (black and white, not color magazine or glossy ) or use brown, not white, cardboard.  There is no need to remove the grass first.

2. Make sure the sections overlap one another so that grass and weeds will not come up between the cracks.

3. Thoroughly wet down the newspaper or cardboard. After trial and error, I do this by filling up a wheelbarrow with newspaper and soak with water, rather than lay it out first and dump water on it. This method saves water, and it's heavier and more likely to break down quicker than watering it after you lay it down. It breaks up when lifting from the wheelbarrow and makes a thicker mulch, as opposed to laying sheet-by-sheet. And you don't have to put rocks on top to keep it from flying away as you're layering or watering it.

4. Cover the newspaper or cardboard with a thick layer of mulch or dirt or both (about 6 inches, or more).

5. Allow grass and weeds to die back for 1-2 months. Mine took a little longer than that. The runner-grass is a nightmare.

6. Plant directly through the mulch and newspaper/cardboard. If you know you’re going to be planting trees or shrubs, dig the holes before putting down the layers of newspaper/cardboard and then layer the newspaper/cardboard around the holes. 
I'm not that organized.

 

 

Above:Evergreens replace the dead lawn in winter

Rhododendrons, shown left, flowers arrive before the leaves

Now Isn't this much better than a needy, work-intensive lawn? It's less work and more reward to grow a garden.
Xeriscaping makes it water-wise, and using fragrant and native plants makes 
it a low-maintenance retreat that you'll enjoy sitting and relaxing in after a long day.

Once your lawn becomes a garden, it will grow beautifully with less maintenance. And you get flowers!

 

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