Delawning My Own Garden

Why did I rip out my lawn? Because I hated mowing, and I wanted plants that offer more for wildlife and for my own enjoyment than turfgrass. NOT because I think lawns are inherently evil, as I explain here in my Standard Disclaimer about Lawn Removal.

My Front Garden Story — Lawn to Kitchen Garden to Pretty Groundcovers

In the fall of 2007 I ripped out the oval-shaped lawn and attempted to grow food – but there wasn’t enough sun.  So I moved my food-growing operation to containers on my sunny deck in back, and started experimenting with groundcovers here – including an assortment of Thymes, plus Mazus, Clover, Creeping Jenny and lots of creeping Sedums.

Here are my blog posts about the transformation of this front garden, with great suggestions in the comments:

My Back Garden Story — Lawn to Pretty Groundcovers

The much larger back lawn met its demise, too – composted with leaves. The design goal in this lawn replacement was to keep the space open and low — visually and functionally similar to a lawn. Plants needed to be able to take a bit of foot traffic – at least for weeding and removing litter – and withstand having the garden hose slung across it in the summer. Also, they have to need no mowing and no watering – at all – and not cost a lot. I priced several low creeping perennials but they spread too slowly and would have cost from $1,000 to $2,000 to cover the area within one season. (Because it’s on a hillside, covering the ground quickly is essential to prevent erosion.)

The solution: First I enlarged the borders. Then for the remaining ex-lawn, the dominant plant is Sedum sarmentosum, which arrived here as a weed. It was already thick around the dry streambed, so I removed several plugs, planted them in the bare space, and in 3 months the ground was completely covered. Other weeds I allowed to stay are the edible purslane and the native smartweed (Polygonum pensylvanicum), which blooms in fuchsia.

Of course there were weeds I removed, like the butt-ugly crabgrass and plaintain, and the too-tall ones like black-eyed susan.