Why Get Rid of Your Grass: Create a Low-Maintenance Landscape
Are you fed up with lawn maintenance and hoping to find a better option? There are a lot of reasons you should consider converting your lawn into something else. In this article, gardening enthusiast Liessa Bowen discusses 13 reasons to grow something other than grass.
A uniformly manicured, green grassy lawn has become an iconic image of the “perfect” yard. But who says your front yard has to look like a golf course? Turfgrass is very high-maintenance, and maintaining it is expensive. Keeping your lawn looking perfect requires extra water, chemicals, time, and a lawn mower. If you’re here, you might want to get rid of your grass.
Fortunately, you can do many other things with your yard besides just growing grass. You can convert your grassy lawn into a landscape with color, interest, variety, and wildlife habitat. You can grow edible plants, beautiful flowers, herbs, shade trees, and ornamental shrubs. Why would you want to only look at grass when there are so many more interesting plants to enjoy?
You don’t have to remove your entire lawn. There are still benefits to reducing the amount of grass you maintain. Any part of your lawn that you convert to something other than turfgrass will have benefits. You can start small or swap out your grass all at once. The choice ultimately is up to you on how to proceed and how you want your landscape to look.
Are you ready to give up your lawn mower? Keep reading to learn more about 13 excellent reasons you’ll want to get rid of your grass.
Reason 1: Grass is High Maintenance
For many, lawn care is an unpleasant chore. Some homeowners hire other people to take care of their lawns. If you aren’t continually mowing, watering, aerating, fertilizing, and killing weeds, your grassy lawn will soon become a patch of brown, weedy turf, which no one strives for.
The average homeowner who manages a turfgrass lawn spends a lot of time and money on lawn maintenance, and many people don’t use their lawns often. For them, it becomes a nuisance they feel obligated to take care of. Is there something else you’d rather do than think about the next time you have to manage your lawn?
Reason 2: No More Mowing!
If you manage your own lawn, you probably own a lawn mower. That lawn mower uses energy from fossil fuels or electricity, can make a lot of noise, and requires periodic maintenance and upkeep. Also, someone has to go out on hot summer days and push the lawn mower around.
Simply put, if you don’t have grass, you won’t have to mow it, and you might even be able to get rid of your lawn mower and have a bit of extra space.
Reason 3: Use Less Water
Do you water your lawn? Have you ever wondered how much water you have sprinkled on your grass? Using a standard sprinkler to water your lawn for one hour uses over one thousand gallons of water. Multiply that by the number of times you water your lawn in a typical month, which can add up to a huge amount of water!
There are many more water-efficient ways to manage your yard. Many communities, particularly in more arid parts of the country, are now encouraging residents to find alternative options to turfgrass to help conserve natural water resources.
Native plants, trees, and shrubs adapt well to natural conditions and don’t typically require extra watering. Xeriscaping and rock gardening are landscaping techniques that specifically use drought-tolerant plants. These are all excellent ways to create an interesting landscape that doesn’t use any extra water.
Reason 4: Use Fewer Chemicals
If you can get rid of your grass, you can manage your yard in a way that doesn’t require any extra chemicals. You won’t need to buy turfgrass fertilizers or weed killers. You won’t need to apply any chemical products to your landscape. You also won’t need to worry about re-seeding your grass or filling dead patches with new turf.
And because you aren’t buying or using chemical products and grass supplements, you save a lot of money. Say goodbye to extra fertilizers and herbicides, and you can stop putting these toxic chemicals into your yard, home environment, or the natural environment where runoff pollutes waterways.
Reason 5: Grass is Boring
If you had the choice to spend time looking at a solid green lawn or a habitat full of color, structure, birds, and butterflies, which would keep your interest longer? I would much prefer looking at a colorful landscape full of life.
Turfgrass doesn’t add much of anything to the natural environment. If you want a nice, flat, soft place to play lawn games, perhaps you need some grass. Otherwise, check out some more interesting options that can support a diverse ecosystem!
Reason 6: You Can’t Eat Grass
Grass has no food value to you or anyone else unless you are grazing cows in your front yard. If you replace your grass with a more edible landscape, you can grow food for your family, the birds, butterflies, and honey bees.
Starting a small herb garden or growing a few summer vegetables doesn’t take too much effort. You can also plant some fruiting trees or shrubs, such as blueberry bushes.
Not only can you grow plants to eat, but while doing it, you also support pollinators and create a more varied and interesting landscape. If you want to grow a few vegetables or herbs, you don’t need to create a huge separate garden for them. You can incorporate them into your landscape just like any other plant.
Reason 7: Attract Pollinators
Grow a colorful flower garden and attract a plethora of pollinators. Pollinators can’t use grass at all. They fly right past it, looking for something that provides nectar, larval food source, or shelter. You can help these valuable and fascinating insects by planting pollinator-friendly plants such as colorful wildflowers and flowering shrubs.
Pollinators are necessary for many of the foods we eat every day. Honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, beetles, and even hummingbirds act as pollinators. These animals are colorful, interesting, and easy to welcome into your home landscape.
When you create a habitat for pollinators, you also create a habitat for other beneficial insects and birds. In a pollinator-friendly garden, be sure not to use pesticides because these will kill the beneficial insects and pests.
Reason 8: Attract Birds
Birdwatching is one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in America. Anyone can enjoy looking at birds; you don’t need to go any farther than your backyard. However, you won’t get many birds if all you have is grass.
Replace your grass with a combination of trees, shrubs, and native wildflowers, and you will have a colorful and vibrant yard full of avian activity. Birds are attracted to plants that best provide what they need.
Hummingbirds look for nectar-rich flowers such as zinnias. Goldfinches love the seedheads of purple coneflowers. Birds use trees and shrubs for perching, resting, foraging, and nesting. They don’t have much use for turf grass.
Reason 9: Create a Healthy Ecosystem
If you want a uniformly green front yard, grass may be your best bet. If you’d prefer to positively impact the natural environment and contribute to a healthy ecosystem, ditch the grass and replace it with variety. Don’t plant many invasive species, but just about any other assortment of plants will be more environmentally friendly than a grassy monoculture.
A healthy ecosystem is well-balanced and full of variety. If you have enough space, plant a tree or a few shrubs. You can then add a combination of annual and perennial flowers.
Choose plants well-suited to your natural environment because these species will thrive with minimal effort from you. When you grow a variety of different plants, they will be more resilient than a single-species monoculture, and they will attract wildlife to help round out the healthy ecosystem.
Reason 10: Create a Diverse and Colorful Landscape
So many beautiful and beneficial plants are available that are hardy and easy to grow. So why grow just grass in your yard? Your yard can host a spectacular assortment of plants with different colors, textures, blooming times, heights, and structures. Here are a few ideas to diversify after grass:
- Plant a shade tree.
- If you have a shaded spot, grow some shade-loving plants, such as ferns.
- Grow ground covers along borders and edges.
- Try some plants with evergreen foliage.
- Grow different flowers that bloom in the spring, summer, and fall.
- Try some plants with large leaves and others with small leaves.
- Look for some beautiful flowering shrubs.
- Grow a tree or shrub with brilliant fall foliage.
Reason 11: Increase Curb Appeal
If I’m walking down the street, I may pass several houses with nothing but grass, and then there’s a yard that really catches my attention. It’s interesting to look at, alive with color, and maybe even has some butterflies fluttering around. It is most certainly not a yard full of grass. It has variety and color, and it says, “Hey, pay attention to me!”
I love to see when someone turns their yard into a landscape rather than simply a lawn. It’s quite simple to create curb appeal just by adding some variety. Start small or jump right into a full landscape makeover. And who knows, maybe your neighbors will be inspired and follow your lead!
Reason 12: Other Plants are Easier to Grow
Grass is relatively easy to grow but difficult to grow well. You can throw out grass seed, water it, and it will grow. But grass requires tremendous maintenance to convince it to grow well so it continues to look great. We often try to force grass to grow in inappropriate areas, such as under trees or in poor soils, and we have unrealistic expectations that grass should always be green, uniform, and weed-free.
When you grow plants other than grass, you open up a lot of possibilities. You can choose plants that grow well in your climate zone. Even within your yard, available sunlight, soil types, and soil moisture will often vary. You can choose the best plants for each area of your yard rather than expecting one plant to thrive in all conditions. When you grow the right plants for the right conditions, they become quite low maintenance!
Reason 13: Increase Creative Opportunities
Once you say goodbye to grass, you say hello to many other creative opportunities. You can create a themed garden, such as a butterfly garden, rock garden, or pocket prairie. You can add garden art, wind spinners, or a water feature to your themed garden.
Try growing flowers in a rainbow of colors or a sequence of blooming periods so your yard is always awash with color. There are lots of ways to be creative with plants. When you get away from grass, you open up many creative possibilities.
Frequently Asked Questions
My homeowner’s association requires that I maintain a grassy lawn. Is there anything I can do?
This is, of course, a tricky question. You can contact your HOA and request permission to establish a small flower garden. It may not completely replace your lawn, but at least you can get a bit of diversity in your yard. You can also grow a lawn alternative like microclover or creeping thyme for a similar lush carpet look. If nothing else, you can grow flowers or vegetables in containers.
Should I remove all my grass at once, or can I do it in stages?
Sometimes, it may be convenient to simply remove all your grass at once. But if you have a large lawn, limited time, or aren’t ready to kill your grass all at once, you can do it in stages. Convert part of your lawn to something else and enjoy that for a while. When you’re ready, you can start the next phase of grass conversion. Each time you reduce the size of your lawn, you increase the portion of your yard that isn’t grass, and that’s making steps in the right direction.
Is it okay to keep some part of my grassy lawn?
It’s up to you how much grass you might want to keep. You may want to keep some grass for recreation, as walkways and access areas, or just because you like how it looks. When you convert any part of your lawn to something else, you will be increasing species diversity, increasing wildlife habitat, and likely decreasing your need to mow, water, or use chemicals. These are all positive changes that will help build a more balanced and healthy ecosystem around your home.
Whether you have a tiny lawn or a large expanse of grass, you are probably well aware of how much effort it takes to maintain a great-looking lawn. If you’re considering the pros and cons of grass, you will find some great benefits to moving beyond grass. It will take effort and planning, but think of all the possibilities you can try! Your yard will be more vibrant when you incorporate other plants. Add a splash of color and a bit of structure, and you’re well on your way to having a spectacular reduced-grass or grass-free landscape.