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Replacing Your Lawn: A Gorgeous Way To Save the Earth

Did you know that maintaining the suburban lawns in the United Statesuses more pesticide applications per acre (3.2-9.8 lbs) than land used for agriculture (2.7 lbs per acre on average)? The average lawn is actually a net negative for the health of the planet! You might think that’s crazy, since lawns have grass, and grass is green, so it should be good for the environment, right? Well, not exactly.

Maintaining a lawn is hard work and involves a lot of fertilizer and pesticides. These chemicals can be toxic to wildlife and cause food source contamination, behavioral abnormalities that interfere with survival, and death got species they are NOT aimed at. They commonly runoff from rainwater into rivers and streams, harming natural habitats. In fact, of 30 commonly used fertilizers and lawn pesticides: 16 are toxic to birds, 24 are toxic to fish and aquatic organisms, and 11 are deadly to bees.

Speaking of health issues, of those 30 commonly used lawn pesticides and fertilizers 13 are probable or possible carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants, and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system in humans.

With all the potential harm a seemingly normal yard offers, you might want to consider making a change. To do that, you need to replace your lawn with something, but what?

Why Replace Your Lawn?

We know, lawns look nice. Lush green grass growing around your property lets anyone peeking at your yard know that you take care of your space. A well-maintained lawn is tidy, but gardens on the other hand, are gorgeous. If you replace your lawn with gardens, you and the environment can mutually benefit from the variety of plant life growing in one space.

Aesthetics aside, replacing your lawn with a garden offers several additional benefits:

Save Money

Lawns are expensive. How much of your water bill comes from your sprinklers making sure your lawn is hydrated? Experts estimate that watering your 100’ by 100’ yard every week can bring up yourmonthly water billby $150 to $200. Imagine saving that money rather than spending it only to keep your front yard green.

Aside from water bills, you also get to save on other maintenance costs. Lawns are high maintenance. You need fertilizer, weed killer, and constant mowing to maintain a lawn’s beauty. Chemicals and gas both are costly. If you don’t want to mow your lawn yourself, you might even hire lawn maintenance companies to do the job for you, adding to your maintenance budget.

Save Time

If you maintain your lawn yourself, you could easily spend an entire weekend watering, trimming, and mowing grass. To what end, exactly?

When you think about it, lawns offer nothing much apart from an expected appearance. What is appearance without substance? If you replace your lawn with a garden or more naturalized plantings, you can save a lot of time and still keep a lovely yard – one that is actually good for you and the planet. Less lawn work means more weekend time. There’s so much more to do on a weekend than mowing grass.

Save Water

Watering your lawn with a standard garden hose for an hour uses 1,020 gallons of water. In a month, you could use up to 12,240 gallons of water if you water your lawn three times a week (figures from Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission Water).

The water you waste on your lawn for a month could be enough to grow 125 pounds of tomatoes! If we do a bit of math, 2 pounds is equal to about 12 tomatoes. That means your monthly lawn water could yield 750 tomatoes. These tomatoes could make 1,800 burgers if each one had two slices of tomato! How’s that for some perspective?

Of course, you probably wouldn’t use your space exclusively for growing tomatoes. The point is that you could channel your water usage into something more productive. Consider growing some food crops in your space to when creating a sustainable landscape for your home. There’s nothing like having a personal food supply grown from your own garden.

Save the Environment

Switching out your lawn for gardens and more natural plantingsis a small step you can take in curbing the effects of climate change. Since lawns need constant mowing, you’re creating carbon emissions when using gas lawn mowers. You’reactually polluting the air in exchangefor grass, whichdoes work at cleaning the air, but not at the rate that you’d be adding to it.

Adding shrubs and trees to your space will give you exceptional natural air purifiers. These fully grown plants also don’t require a lot of chemicals and pesticides to maintain, so you avoid any health issues related to such products.

That’s not all. Trees provide natural shade and wind breaks, helping reduce both heating and cooling costs for your home. Trees are also natural animal habitats. You could find yourself with more birds as neighbors when your trees are fully grown, which is a more natural way to cut down on insects.

Preparing to Replace Your Lawn

Depending on your climate, late summer and early autumn is usually the best time to do your lawn upgrading. This process involves removing existing grass, so you will need to plan out the event in advance.

This could be a great family activity. Call it something along the lines of “The Beginning of the End to All Your Lawn Mowing Woes.” Your kids,if they don’t love mowing the lawn on weekends, may be enthusiastically on board if it means never having to mow and trim grass ever again.

Preparing to replace your lawn for renovation involves a few basic steps:

  1. Measure Your Lawn: You can go the traditional way of using a tape measure to get your square footage. You could also go online for your home’s satellite view to make the job easier. Measuring your lawn is essential to planning what shrubs and plants (and how many) you could grow on your property.

  2. Scalp Your Lawn: This might be the last time you’ll have to hold your lawnmower. Scalping involves removing all the grass on your lawn. Put your mower on the lowest setting and go over the entire landscape.

  3. Remove the grass: we won’t lie – this is the ugly stage. The easiest way to eliminate grass is to smother it using newspaper, or cardboard. Depending on the time of year and material used, this can take several months. You want to block the grass root system so that it does not regrow and fight with your new plantings for resources. Some people plan this for over the winter or the hottest part of the late summer – when lawns tend to brown and be less attractive anyway.

Of course, the fastest method is to dig out the sod or till it under. Both are heavy work and tilling is a CO2 creator. But it may be a reasonable short-term cost for long term benefit.

  1. Level Your Lawn: With your grass gone, you might find some uneven areas on your lawn that you haven’t noticed before. You can smoothen your lawn’s surface out with regular soil to help your future plants grow.

  2. Get Professional Help: Of course, experts exist in the field of lawn renovation. You can ask for advice to learn what local plants are best for your area. Call your local landscaper and see if they have the tools you need for your landscaping project available for rent. They can also provide valuable advice on the best local plantings for your specific area and supply the labor for it if you want to go that route.

Kinds of Gardens

With your lawn all dead and prepped for becoming a garden, both DIYers and professional landscapers can turn your space into several kinds of gardens. Here are a few popular choices:

Arboretum / Botanical Garden: Focus on woody plants can provide privacy, fruit production, and shade.

Butterfly Garden: Your yard could have plants and flowers that attract butterflies and other pollinators and bloom with beauty.

Organic Garden: You could grow food in your space that otherwise would have just taken up outrageous amounts of water a month.

Zen Rock Garden: This Japanese-type garden combines landscape and aquascape where you could try raising outdoor koi fish.

The variety of gardens to choose from are amazing. Here are a few more you could research to see if they might be a match for your space: Bamboo gardens, Herb gardens, Succulent gardens, Topiary or Hedge maze gardens, Water gardens, and Xeriscaped gardens.


Consider replacing some, most, or even all of your lawn with gardens. While lawns offer the expected suburban aesthetics by being green and clean-looking, in truth lawns aren’t exactly green and clean when it comes to the environment. These spaces consumevaluable fresh water and require co2 emissions, chemical fertilizer, and pesticides to maintain.

You may have more space than you want to fill with only one type of garden. By reimagining your space into several zones, instead of a plain yard, you can to save so much more than just money on maintenance. No more extra costs on water bills for keeping your grass green. Plus, you get to save time from mowing your lawn on the weekends and help preserve both birds and endangered pollinators.

In terms of aesthetics, gardens have so much more variety than lawns. From butterfly gardens, to growing plants that attract pollinators, to organic gardens you can harvest homegrown vegetables from, you’d be utilizing all that free space from your yard for both personal and environmental benefit.

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