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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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