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In the last year or so, we’re hearing that there are better uses for our land than turfgrass, that unless it’s needed for sport or play, you can save on resources and probably your labor, too, by switching to an array of alternatives – meadows, vegetable gardens, native grasse, and so on.

All good!  Well, mostly good – because that well-intentioned advice isn’t easy to actually implement, without a LOT more information.  Which groundcovers? Which native grasses – and native to where, anyway?  How much do the alternatives cost, can they be walked on, and how much work does it really take to maintain them?

My mixed reviews of much of the lawn-free cheering has me wildly cheering the thoroughly researched and honestly reported definitive book about reducing or eliminating lawns by Evelyn Hadden.  Beautiful No-Mow Yards contains exactly the kind of info that’s needed, and its gorgeous photographs (most by Evelyn and the wonderful Saxon Holt, too) are deeply inspirational to anyone looking to make their yards more interesting, more beautiful, and more wildlife-friendly.

Meet Evelyn

Readers of Thehomegardendirectory are no strangers to this subject (see the many stories in our Lawn Reform category), but may not be familiar with the author.  Well, Evelyn is THE original lawn reformer, having written Shrink Your Lawn and created the Less Lawn website back in 2001.  She’s a pioneer whose cause has caught on.

What’s in Beautiful No-Mow Yards

  • Photos and stories about gardens sunny and shady, flat and hilly, a “shockingly simple meadow garden”, a “patio for pennies”, rain gardens, edibles, ponds, terraces, hellstrips and more.
  • “Smarter lawns” using fine fescue mixes, carexes, and other low-resource grass types, including where each type works best and what it takes to install and maintain them.
  • Real gardeners and the truth about their attempts to replace their lawns, failures and all.
  • How-to chapters for killing the lawn, designing alternatives, and maintaining them.
  • An illustrated guide to groundcovers by type.

Here’s Evelyn’s quick video introduction to the book.

Just one more photo from the book for now (more coming this afternoon, I hope), and a confession.  That’s my garden on the cover!  And in the photo on the left, both by Saxon Holt.  (Though I suppose I should start saying “former garden,” since I sold it three weeks ago. Sigh.)

Plus, I wrote the foreward, happy to help in any way I could because this book is soooo needed.

So I feel like the proud aunt to Evelyn’s baby. Her beautiful, superbly written baby.  Great job!

Just leave a comment about lawns or alternatives thereto, and I’ll choose one at random.  Entries close Friday at midnight Eastern.

Posted by

Susan Harris
on January 24, 2012 at 6:54 am, in the category Everybody’s a Critic, Lawn Reform.


  1. I live on a corner lot one block from an elementary school. Not only do I not want to take care of a traditional lawn in my front yard, but I’ve been hoping that putting in some kind of lawn alternative will help with some of the kids cutting across my yard all the time. (Yes, I’m that “You kids stay the &$#* off my lawn!” lady!)

  2. We have no lawn at the new place that we purchased last year … so, instead of seeding the yard, I am still looking for alternatives for at least a large segment of the yard.

  3. I’m working to change just a few square feet of lawn to something else each year — first, some shade gardens; this year, expanded veggie gardens blended into the landscape. Very rewarding!

  4. I need help in this area. I truly want to take out the lawn, but haven’t found something that will work for me. Been thinking about it for years and still can’t find the right answer.

  5. I am dead between excited/scared to do this on my own corner lot, one block from school. The book looks great, and I’m just excited to have found Evelyn as another resource.

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