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Love your local perennials and wildlife, banish that grass!

by Atlas

Find the real beauty your yard can behold and donate your lawn mower with some creative "cooking."

When you look out on your garden, are you also looking at an expanse of grass? Is your plot of green, which may require weekly or even twice weekly care, detracting from the time you spend puttering about your perennials? Are sparrows and starlings proliferating in your bushes while you hear about neighbors with great wildlife? Have you been tempted to remove your grass but are daunted by the challenge? Here's a simple way to start transforming your estate into the sanctuary you imagine.

Grass, depending on the variety you have, is hardy. It might be simpler to explain what not to do with it. Do not rotatill it, do not dig it out gently, trying to leave as much soil (and hence grass matt) behind. What you do want to do is either rent a machine to cut beneath the matt of grass (at least 4 to 6 inches) or smother that grass so sunlight can't reach it. For the gardener who doesn't mind taking a little time, employing a technique sometimes referred to as lasagna gardening can provide beautiful results. The idea here is to leave the grass undisturbed and block sunlight by adding layers of paper, newspaper, or cardboard plus fresh soil and compost until an additional depth of 4 to 6 inches is reached. The paper products will slowly decompose, all the while killing off the hardy grass beneath and helping to retain moisture. As you are building up the layers, you can also plant new plants, or keep the ones you have in the same location. If the roots of your new plants do not require much depth, you can plant them on top of your cardboard layer, so long as you have added sufficient compost/new soil above and water regularly until the plant is established. For existing plants, remove the grass nearest the plant stem, cover closely to the stem with cardboard (to block sunlight) and then build soil up around the plant. The plant will sit in a short well, which will also facilitate retention of water during watering. For new plants requiring deeper planting, first dig the necessary holes and loosen the soil therein. Then plant the new plants with mulch and fertilizer as needed. Then, as with existing plants, cover the area around the plant (and close to the stem) with cardboard. Build up soil to cover the cardboard. Water sufficiently. Around garden edges that meet walkways, be prepared to remove existing grass and soil to a depth that will allow you to layer cardboard/other papers and new compost/soil without the mix tumbling out of bounds.

Oh, and that wildlife? Add plants native to your area, remove invasive ones, and wait for the wildlife to appear. Though it can take a couple seasons, dedicated native plantings attract the wildlife that live in them...and the invasive wildlife will often leave to find a new home. In the Pacific Northwest, native plantings create the opportunity for regular sightings of juncos, flickers, hummingbirds, and wrens--and that's just the start!


Grass, wildlife, lasagna, cardboard, kill, habitat, Pacific, Northwest


I'm a big fan of native planting chiefly because I'm a lazy gardener and love that natives make themselves comfortable and ask very little of me. A neighbor got rid of her lawn by this lasagna method. It was not very pretty for the first several months, but now she has one of the most beautiful gardens I've ever seen, well worth the wait! Great information. Thanks!
TheGardenFriend commented on 03/17/12
In the next year or so we are removing the lawn.... and putting in a water friendly garden for our zone 8b climate. <br/> <br/>
CrazyCatLady commented on 03/16/12