Can we live without lawns?

“We have always done it this way”

We all have lawns, right? In front of houses and apartment buildings and public structures. But why? Do we really need to have manicured lawns? And why is it necessary to remove every single dandelion that pops up in the lawn? Is grass good? Are dandelions bad, evil plant creatures that must be stamped out as soon as they pop out of the ground? Should we eradicate them with the most powerful chemical weapons that we can find? And what about leaves? Must they be removed from the lawn, placed in plastic bags at the curb, and taken away by the garbage trucks? Is our suburban dream a good thing?

One long standing belief is that a well-irrigated green lawn that is completely free of weeds is a thing of beauty. Indeed, in many communities, that lawn is a requirement. If you have tall plants, instead of short grass, in your front yard, you could be subject to fines. Are those laws necessary?

“We have always done it this way.”

How about if we did it a different way? How about resetting our concept of beauty? Could plants that attract pollinators be things of beauty? Can a little bit of disorder be seen as beautiful? And less work? Instead of grass, how about ground cover? You could replace your lawn with short, flowering ground cover, such as Allegheny pachysandra, which is especially good for shaded yards. Other alternatives to turf grass would include moss, sedge, chamomile, and clover. Your lawn will attract pollinators, and you can skip those lawnmowing sessions. Also, native plants are hardier than grass. They are an important part of a healthy ecosystem. And, not only do they attract pollinators, they also attract birds. If you like bird watching, you can do it right at home!

Oh, and, for sure, give another look to dandelions. They and clover attract honeybees and other pollinators. And that’s a good thing!

As you’re planning for your lawn care for this season and next, think of the pollinators. And think about life after the lawn.

“Let’s do things differently!”


6 thoughts on “Can we live without lawns?”

  1. I'd love to have a yard full of wild flowers! If we removed the dandelions from our yard, it would be bare dirt. LOL I loved our backyard, it has grass but it also has lots of flowers, annuals, perennials and wild flowers. A perfect spot for all the birds, butterflies and little critters passing through. I love nature and don't really care about a pristine yard.

  2. pamtheamericandogrunner

    Lawns, oh a pain to keep manicured sometimes. But they do look good when they are! Do we need them? Someone said that lawns are more manufactured- years ago to me and a friend, and I have really stopped thinking about this. I do like a fresh cut grassy backyard, but I also do not mind the clover that pops up, the dandelion- which is edible- my Mom's former boss used to make Dandelion wine years ago. There are some weeds that pop up around the perimeter of my yard that I HATE- I think they are geranium weeds- not geranium flowers there supposedly weeds by the same name?!?!? HATE THEM! No HATE to the max! You get rid of them and they come right back…..using roundup is NOT an option unless I want to impede my health, my Mom's health, our dog's health. (and honestly the health of anyone in close proximity!!

    Lawns are nice to take your shoes off and do some yoga in/ on….and connect nicely with the earth! No?!?!? So take off your shoes and become one with and get grounded in the grass…..then again, we can walk and get grounded in the soil/ sand/ take a dip in the open water…..and more ways…..So I guess it's more personal than straightforward of an answer to me!!


  3. pamtheamericandogrunner

    One last note, where would Lia's butterflies go without the flowers in the backyard the flowers among the lawns- that are making this world beautiful again- ( Lia's butterflies that are new to the world thanks to Lia!)…..

  4. Front yard lawns are particularly useless these days. Parents don't allow children to play in the front yard anymore. A bit of lawn in the back, with small children, I can see, for them to roll around on. I don't have any lawn in the front, and have been adding raised beds and paths to my back, which is more grassy area than really lawn. It's probably half what it was when I moved in.

    Pam above mentions wild geranium, probably Carolina wild geranium. It's one of the prettiest weed flowers in the yard. I look forward to them every year, along with red deadnettle. One woman's weed is another woman's wildflower!

  5. We don't have lawns (in our front and back yards) for the last four or five years now…. the long drought period in California meant we were not watering the lawn that had already been there, and we realized we don't need them.. now we are slowly filling the dirt with whatever can grow, herbs, and wildflowers, and then plain dirt ….

  6. A wildflower yard would be lovely! If it was my home, though, I'd want less risk of bee stings, though, not more. Every time I was stung as a kid, I was at home.

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