Last year was the year the I finally decided I’d had enough of my lawn. The grass only grew in certain places, no matter how much we watered or which grass breeds we tried. We tried everything to get a lush, green lawn. We fertilized, tested the soil, watered, planted grass breeds indigenous to our area, sprayed for weeds and grubs, and mowed with a mulching blade. Through all of that, the yard still wouldn’t grow right. We spent a ton of money and time and still had nothing to show for it. And I certainly wasn’t about to pay a professional lawn company a fortune to come try all the same things we tried.
Finally, last year, I said, “Enough.” Enough wasted water. Enough money down the drain in fertilizers and lawn products. Enough mowing and weed whacking every weekend (and the wasted gas money and time). Enough chemicals spewing into the environment. Between all of that, the water restrictions my town has in place, and the near death experience I had two years ago after being attacked by yellow jackets while mowing, I decided I wouldn’t miss the lawn one bit. I decided I would spend one last bit of money to buy some grass and weed killer to kill off the surviving patches of grass and be done with the whole thing. Last fall I killed it all and started over with a natural yard.
When the leaves and pine straw fell over the winter, I left them where they fell. By spring they’d made a deep, mulchy ground cover. Then I went to the nursery and bought lots of plants that are natural to my area. They require very little water and almost no maintenance. They will die back in the winter, but return in the spring so I don’t have to replant every year. I bought lots of evergreen shrubs and more trees to fill in the space and created some “rock garden” type areas, too. Now I have an attractive yard that requires almost nothing from me in terms of time or money. The deep ground cover takes care of most of the weeds and other than some trimming of the plants, I don’t have to do anything. When the leaves fall this winter I won’t have to rake, either. They’ll just add to my ground cover.
It’s been a liberating summer thus far. Other than my initial planting efforts, I haven’t had to do anything. While my neighbors are out mowing every weekend, I’m doing things I really want to do. I’m no longer wasting money on chemicals, gasoline, mower parts and maintenance, seeds, and water to keep up with a grassy lawn. It’s saved me a ton of money (the latest estimate is up to about $300) and time, and this is just halfway through the first year.
For many people the idea of living without a lawn is too extreme. In some places it’s even prohibited to kill off your lawn. I’m lucky that I don’t live in an area with homeowner’s restrictions, so there’s no one telling me that I have to have a lush lawn. If, however, you are frustrated with your lawn, maybe you can try replacing just a portion of it with a natural area. Every bit that you don’t have to religiously tend will save you money and time.