One of the first things we did at our last two properties is to replace part of the lawn with gardens.
It’s not that I hate the turf… especially my idea of turf which is combination of grass, white clover, and whatever green plant happens to take root in my lawn at the time. If it’s green we mow it, and it usually looks good, especially right after mowing. We only fertilize with organic fertilizers, apply lime only when a pH test shows that we need to raise the pH, and water deeply once a week if it doesn’t rain. Last year we had Cape Cod Safelawns do a complete soil test and spray several applications of compost tea, the specified lime, and compost on our remaining lawn. Like many organic practices, the results weren’t “instant coffee” but from mid-July on the grass looked green and lush, and as it gained vigor the weeds were largely choked out.
I do think that a strip of mowed lawn compliments all the other plants I’m interested in, but I’d rather have less to mow, thank you very much.
In my last property, and at Poison Ivy Acres, I wanted the first room that people enter to be a garden. So I’ve removed part or all of the front lawn in order to plant annuals, perennials and shrubs. Susan Harris shows before and after shots at her blog. Susan is interested in hearing from others who have replaced lawns, so write her and send photos!
When lawns are done well – attention to soil health, only organic fertilizers, grass and other plants including clover, irrigation only when necessary and never treating for insects or diseases prophylactically – I believe that there is a place for turf in many landscapes. For many this type of lawn is less work than plantings of perennials/annuals/shrubs, especially since others are hired for the mowing and other lawn care. It’s a matter of balance I suppose.
How do you weigh in? Do you love your lawn? Have you replaced lawn with other plantings?