I’m a big advocate of reducing the size of lawns. Right now the idea of cutting the size of your lawn in half is making the rounds of social media and I couldn’t be more delighted to see the word being spread! The advice comes from University of Delaware Professor Doug Tallamy who is also one of my favorite garden authors. Tallamy is one of the preeminent scholars who are advocating that we can all benefit the environment by giving up a little bit of that lawn that we’ve been told is is crucial to making your home esthetically pleasing.
I was incredibly happy when we gave up our lawn. First of all I’m allergic to grass so cutting the lawn was always a hated chore. And as a kid we had lots of lawn. While my mother was a flower gardener she’d also grown up in the city and brought with her city attitudes to lawn as part of the landscape. She kept expanding and expanding the area around our home that was considered “lawn” and when we finally got a riding mower she really went to town. People look at my gardens and comment on the work, but frankly these beautiful gardens are much less work than constant weekly lawn maintenance.
While living in the city I had little choice but to work within the zoning restrictions that were imposed by the city culture… no more than 25% of your yard could be gardens and meadows were not looked upon fondly. So I restricted myself to raised beds in the back yard, a couple of shrub borders and — finally — a “hell strip” planting in the area between the sidewalk and the curb.
Back on the farm, where we now live, we’ve turned the front yard into a garden. As my interest in native plants increases, I’ve replaced more and more of the front entry space with garden; currently a mix of native plants and adaptable plants. And I’ve encouraged more and more milkweed into the garden and been rewarded with lots of Monarch butterflies. It’s great to see the results - the increased numbers and health of these beauties.
But this hasn’t all come at once and it’s been a slow process. I rely on a number of books to guide my journey as a native plants gardener and two of my favorites are featured below: Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home and the design book he co-wrote with Rick Darke The Living Landscape. I refer to both books as bibles for my journey and particularly appreciate The Living Landscape as I’ve become more and more intent about creating a garden focused on native plants.
If you’d like to add to the quality of life in your area consider giving up at least a little of your lawn and encouraging biodiversity with a native plants landscape.
Whether you’re interested in how you can do your part to make this world more biodiverse or you’re already sold on the idea but you need design ideas, you can purchase either of Tallamy’s books through Amazon by clicking on the Buy on Amazon button at the bottom of the pictures below. If you do purchase through this website I may receive a small commission.
Note: Goldenrod, pictured on this post, is one of my favorite native plants. It is not the cause of allergies that are so often attributed to it. To learn more check out the National Wildlife Federation’s blog The Goldenrod Allergy Myth.
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