Just Say NO ~ 5 Ways To Break Up With Your Lawn

It’s Valentine’s Day, that one day of the year that we’re told we must express our undying love for another with some over-the-top and often over-priced gesture. Or be viewed as a total failure by, well, the entire greeting card and floral industry for a start.

For me, Valentine’s Day ranks up there on the list of forced holidays just below New Year’s Eve. I kind of hate doing something just because I’m told to. I think it dates back to all those years spent in catholic school, but that’s fodder for a completely different blog post!

A Valentine’s Day Treat

So when I was invited by Evelyn Hadden, author of the soon-to-be-released book, Beautiful No-Mow Yardsand one of the founders of the Lawn Reform Coalition, to join a Valentine’s Day blog tour to celebrate the publication of Beautiful No-Mow Yards, I jumped at the opportunity to help raise awareness of the many alternatives to a I’ll-grow-this-because-everyone else-does lawn, especially for gardeners here in Connecticut, where the lawn alternative trend is just gaining steam.

Having a big lawn is like staying in a doomed relationship just so someone sends you roses on Valentine’s Day. You might feel good for a little while, but deep down, you know you can do better.

It’s easy to breakup with your lawn. Here are five simple ideas to get you started.

Acid Reflux

Here in New England, many of us have soil that is naturally very acidic, a condition traditional lawn grass does not like.

Instead of fighting the soil and adding all sorts of amendments to try to neutralize all that acid, embrace it.

In shady spots, moss will begin to take over and in no time you can have a serene, tranquil moss-covered garden, like this…

Moss Garden in Stamford, CT

Spread the Love

Too often, when we think about covering an unused portion of our property, especially an area that fronts the road, we automatically think lawn.

For those of us who live in snow country, where road salt and mounds of snow from passing plows can pile up for months at a time, it can be difficult to find a lawn alternative that is a true road warrior.

A colorful lawn alternative for a tough site is leadwort (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides). Admittedly not the most compelling of common names, leadwort is a tough as nails spreading ground cover that is drought tolerant, thrives in full sun – partial shade and is deer resistant, a big plus for gardeners battling deer. And just look how lovely it looks with the stone wall as a backdrop…

 Ceratostigma plumbaginoides in Connecticut

Make It About You

Instead of a wide expanse of lawn, why not create a quiet, cozy place in your garden where you can get away from it all and enjoy some me time.

An out-of-the-way corner is an ideal place to showcase a collection of plants, like these hosta. Add a place to sit & relax, grab a good book (perhaps Beautiful No-Mow Yards) and you’re all set.

Hammock for two, anyone?

Hammock and hostas

Throw a Party

Pollinator Power candy heart

There are lots of great reasons to just break up with your lawn, but one of the best ones is to make more room for wildlife habitat in your garden.

Creating even a small bed or border filled with plants native to your area will put out the welcome mat for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

You’ll be amazed at how quickly these pollinators, and lots of other ‘good bugs’, will be having a party in your garden. Don’t forget to include some regionally appropriate larval host plants, like these bright orange milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), which are perfect for New England gardens.

Pollinator garden

Get Sneaky

What happens when you and your valentine don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on the need for a lawn alternative? I’d suggest getting sneaky — it’s worked for me for years!

Probably the easiest, and least conspicuous way to reduce the amount of lawn in your garden is to widen all your existing beds and borders.  Making them even a few feet wider can update your landscape almost instantly since many older homes have very narrow foundation beds. That extra 2 or 3 feet gives you more room for another layer of plants, perhaps a flowering native ground cover.

And when you’re installing a new pathway or walkway think w-i-d-e. Conventional garden design wisdom suggests that primary walkways, like the one leading to your front door, be about 5′ wide. You can easily add another foot or two, giving your guests ample room to walk side by side and you’ll be reducing your lawn.

Better yet, widen your borders and add a pathway right next to them so you can stroll through your garden admiring your handiwork.

From Beautiful No-Mow Yards ©Evelyn Hadden

More Beautiful No-Mow Yards

cover Image of Beautiful No-Mow Yards by Evelyn Hadden

Eveyln’s book, Beautiful No-Mow Yards, will be hitting book shelves any day now.

It’s packed full of inspiring photos and easy to implement advice on how to get rid of some, or all, of your lawn.

With ideas for shade gardens, rain gardens, edible gardens and even natural play spaces for your kids, there something to inspire every gardener to break up with their lawn, regardless of where you live.

If you simply can’t wait to get your own copy of Beautiful No-Mow Yards, check out this video trailer Evelyn created to offer some inspiration right now.

More Anti-Valentine’s Day, You-Can-Do-Better-Than-A -Lawn Ideas

This post is one of a group of Valentine’s Day Tributes to Lawn Alternatives by different garden writers. I invite you to explore the topic of lawn alternatives further:

Landscapes That Love Us Back by Evelyn Hadden of Lawn Reform Coalition

A Love Letter to Wildlife by Carole Sevilla Brown of Ecosystem Gardening

♥  An Anti-Valentine to the Lawn by Susan Harris of Garden Rant

♥  Dear Lawn, I’m Breaking Up With You by Heather Holm of Restoring the Landscape With Native Plants

♥  Book Review: Beautiful No-Mow Yards by Susan Morrison of Blue Plant Garden

♥  Love Letters to Lawns by Saxon Holt of Gardening Gone Wild

Valentine’s Day:  A Round-Up on the Timber Press blog