LeighAnn Ferrara transforms her suburban yard from a border of grass and a few shrubs to an anti-lawn — a patchwork made up of vegetable beds, fruit trees, and flower beds.
The mother of two young children says it didn’t happen overnight. She says, “We began smothering small areas of the lawn with cardboard and mulch each year and planting them. By now, the front yard has probably three-quarters planting beds.” “Every year, we do more.”
The native perennials require less care and maintenance than the turfgrass. She doesn’t require pesticides or herbicides, and she isn’t aiming for emerald perfection.
The lawn, that green, weed-free, neatly trimmed carpet of grass, has dominated American yards for generations. It still does. However, a growing number of homeowners, landscapers, and gardeners are concerned about the environment. They see it as an anachronism or even a threat.
They’re working hard, just like Ferrara.
Dennis Liu, vice-president of education at E.O., says that America is the only country to have a monoculture lawn. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, Durham, North Carolina. “Our English inheritance is our little green space.”
Now, drought and crashing insect populations are all highlighting the need to grow more plants in large and small spaces.
People are trying out more eco-friendly lawns. You can purchase seed mixes that contain native grasses that don’t need to be as thirsty and finicky. Some people are less inclined to mowing and will tolerate old foes like clover and dandelions. Others are trying to replace grass completely or in small amounts with gardens that include pollinator-friendly plants and edible plants.
This will result in a happier, more wild-looking yard.
Liu says, “The more you let your little piece of nature that you are a steward for go with the flow of nature’s flows, the better everyone is.”
Many homeowners have long since switched from turf grass to more drought-resistant options like succulents and gravel states.
The pandemic has accelerated the decline in lawns elsewhere. Gardening became a popular hobby and many people spent more time at home looking after the natural world.
All across the country, municipalities are giving out lawn signs that boast of a healthy yard to homeowners who don’t use lawn chemicals or mow less frequently. Noise is a major reason why many towns have enacted regulations on common tools such as gas-powered leaf blowers or mowers.
Many people are now aware that gardening is more than just an ornamental hobby. It must serve some other purpose. It’s a shift of thought and aesthetics.
Monrovia is a major grower of plants and has received lots of interest in the “Garden of Abundance” trend. This trend offers a more “live-looking” yard, with many plants, according to Katie Tamony, the company trend watcher. It’s a way to see your yard as part of a larger, more beautiful world.
Monrovia’s customers surveyed the most desirable plants to attract pollinators. She said that this was the case for the majority of their customers.
Yet. It’s not going away anytime soon.
There are still rules for homeowners associations to keep their yards trimmed. Lawn services are geared towards maintaining green spaces.
Andrew Bray, vice-president of government relations at the National Association of Landscape Professionals (a trade group), says that lawns remain the most popular choice. People desire neat outdoor spaces that can be used for entertaining, relaxing and playing.
His group supports making lawn care more eco-friendly, but he says some recent ordinances against gas-powered mowers and blowers have created a “fraught political environment.” He also says that electric alternatives aren’t yet feasible for large lawns that professional lawn care professionals manage.
To present its views, the landscapers’ trade association created a new platform, Voices for Healthy Green Spaces. He said that everyone has the option to have a large yard and plant trees, or a meadow with unstructured plants.
Another problem is facing those concerned about grass lawns’ inability to help pollinators and other species. Holloway, the Georgia extension agent, says that many people don’t want bees because they fear nature.
It takes patience to replace grass. Site visits are one of the most rewarding parts of my job. It’s a great way to see backyards that have been around for 20-30 years. Holloway states that it takes time to make a yard with plantings.
It’s difficult to change the neighborhood norms and traditions. Liu states that a lawn looks neat and it’s easy for people to continue doing the same thing. It’s much easier to establish a new equilibrium once you have all the benefits.
He says that some neighbors may see a yard with no lawn and think “there’s the crazy person.” But a lot of people will think it’s cool.