Lawn Be Gone

In post war America, a verdant lawn became a ubiquitous element in housing developments across the country. Fears of water damage lead to landscapes sloping toward the road. More than half a century later, we are beginning to recognize the error of our ways. Lawns are actually thirsty monocrops that require a lot of fertilizer, herbicides, and labor to keep looking good. Putting lawns on slopes makes them even more difficult to irrigate, and doesn’t allow storm water to infiltrate into the soil.

 When rain falls onto a traditional lawn it picks up pollutants, including the chemical fertilizers and herbicides used to keep the lawn green. These pollutants then pour into local streams and get carried to the ocean. Landscapes that lack proper infiltration contribute to greater flooding in big storm events, as runoff from lawns quickly adds to high volumes of water overwhelm storm drains.   

By removing or reducing lawns, and re-contouring the land to capture rainwater for garden plants, we can create beautiful, low-water use landscapes. The traditional lawn can be transformed into a space that recharges our aquifers, and helps keep our oceans and waterways clean and healthy. Providing more biodiversity with our plantings provides habitat to local wildlife such as birds, bees and butterflies, allowing us to live with nature—not dominate it. In this mid-century track house we have removed the lawn, recontoured to the slope to capture rainwater and filled the space with herbs to be enjoyed in the kitchen, and colorful flowers to be enjoyed by birds, bees and other local insects.