An Anti-Valentine to the Lawn

An Anti-Valentine to the Lawn

Spread the love

For Valentine’s Day, Timber Books has invited some bloggers to write anti-valentines to lawns, to help spread the word about Beautiful No-Mow Yards. (Click here to see the anti-Valentines of my blogging buddies.)

I’ll start with a photo that shows lawn at its most perfect and ridiculous.  Next, here are some tidbits gleaned from the 160 or so comments competing for a copy of the No-Mow book:

Husbands are frequently blamed for hanging onto their lawns for dear life, no matter what the gardening wife wants.  But wives can be sneaky:

My husband asked me, “Is it my imagination, or is it taking me less and less time each year to cut the grass?” I have gotten rid of about half of it.

There are plenty of reasons for lawns not doing well: shade, drought+flood cycles, black walnut trees, and DOGS.

On the other hand, dogs are what’s keeping lots of respondents from removing their lawns, and they ask about plants that can stand up to them. One commenter is hoping that Carex can, another reports that moss definitely can’t.  Another is resigned – only mulch or gravel will work.

Ingenious, adventuresome gardeners report replacing their lawns with everything imaginable – the expected veg plots and garden beds but also meditation gardens, an olive grove rising above native grasses (gotta see!), a sea of mondo grass, a permaculture forest, and prairies appropriate to the climate, like this Little Bluestem in the prettiest blog header I’ve ever seen.

One writer reported great success with sheep’s fescue, which needs mowing just once a year – and then only if the seedheads are looking ratty.  It’s not happy in the sunniest spots, though, so she’ll be overseeding there with clover.  (Wanna see!)

And lastly, a commenter needs a lawn alternative that’s good for grazing dairy cows and chickens.  Oy, the challenges!

Now how about some eye candy?  These are my Valentines to lawnless gardens, from my travels around the U.S. 

Austin, TX

Buffalo, NY

Prairie Dropseed at Chanticleer Garden in PA

Poppie Field at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Salvia in Chicago’s Lurie Garden

Long Island Garden of Dennis Schrader

Portland, OR

Portland Garden of Ketzel Levine (now living in Ecuador)

Seattle Garden of Linda Chalker-Scott

Takoma Park, MD

Lawn photo credit.

Posted by

Susan Harris
on February 14, 2012 at 4:30 am, in the category Lawn Reform.

    • Diane
    • 1st January 1970

    Beautiful! The little bluestem header IS stunning! We are on a mission to reduce our lawn. Been working on it for years but we will take a big leap this year in our side yard that we never use and plant a meadow. So excited to watch it transform over the next few years- It could become the most traveled area of the yard. Wonderful post-so happy to see many people talking about this and I can’t wait to read and share the message the book.

    • admin
    • 24th June 2004

    Beautiful, but… in many cases just not practical — or so it seems. Plus, I think of lawn as “white space”, necessary to set off the other plantings. Educate me — I’d love to be wrong!

    • admin
    • 28th December 2009

    I need something for a path that I can pull my wheeled cart along. It’s partly to mostly shady and tends to have water run off along it. I don’t want grass but I don’t know what might even sort of grow. I’m thinking it should be straw mulch or pea gravel or some such non-plant like. I’m cheap and don’t want to buy any materials and also don’t know how to taper that off where I can maintain a grassy path. Ideas?

    • Chris N
    • 24th March 2015

    Lawn as white space. My two cents – White space is for graphic design. I want my garden to be a painting. Paths through the garden are all the white space you need.

    • Chris N
    • 10th May 2016

    On e more quick comment – Evelyn Hadden, author of “Beautiful No-Mow Yards” will be a speaker at Rotary Botanical Garden’s spring symposium. This will be on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at Rotary Botanical Garden in Janesville, WI. Full information can be found here.
    I am so going.

    • admin
    • 20th June 2016

    I, for one, love a beautiful greensward. A good landscape design requires a visual resting place in contrast to the textures, colors and shapes of the rest of the garden. A lawn provides this. In addition, a lawn allows kids and dogs a large playscape to romp in. I certainly understand the argument against grass space, after all I read Garden Rant, but a lawn can be accomplished with a variety of plant material as shown in the “prairie dropseed” photo for one example. I have nothing against a lovely cottage garden, but every yard on every block in every town? What ever happened to freedom of expression. A lawn, as an element of good landscape design with a reasonable physical function, should not be rejected off hand. Not with the variety of new grasses, plant material and information available to everyone today.

    • Evelyn Hadden
    • 25th June 2016

    Susan, so many different looks and styles in your photos! You really reinforce the book’s point that there are a lot of options for those who don’t want a traditional turfgrass-dominated yard.

    • Jason
    • 24th September 2016

    Play space is fine, but how much play ever goes on in most front yards? And I’d be in heaven if there were cottage gardens in every single front yard in my neighborhood.

    • admin
    • 11th November 2016

    I understand everybody’s comments, and appreciate the discussion!

    • UrsulaV
    • 12th November 2016

    These are glorious! Very impressive stuff.

    • tropaeolum
    • 12th November 2016

    Keeping lawn for the dogs?

    • Michael - Plano Prairie Garden
    • 13th November 2016

    “The prettiest blog header I’ve ever seen.” Wow. Thanks. I guess I won’t be changing it any time soon.

    • admin
    • 13th November 2016

    I love all the pictures of the lawn alternatives. I drool over some of them. That said:

    • emily
    • 13th November 2016

    The area around my house is planted unconventionally – I hesitate to even call it a yard. Very little grass and only one traditional foundation plant. I keep debating whether to move the kalmia elsewhere or to add more bushes. The pictures you provided answered my question. Thank you!

    • Pat
    • 14th November 2016

    Interesting post for Valentin’s Day – especially for those of us like me, whose PARTNER steadfastly REFUSES to let me take over the STUPID LAWN! lol – sort of.

    • Sara
    • 15th November 2016

    Oh, wow…the salvia! I would love (repeat – LOVE) to hear more about no-lawn gardening with dogs. Does letting creeping charlie take over the whole backyard count?

Leave a comment

Recent Posts

Testing Pollinator Plants at Penn State

Connie Schmotzer is Principal Investigator for pollinator research. Just in time for National Pollinator Week, my Garden Writers region planned a fabulous outing for members – to see the Penn State Trial Gardens near ...

Read More