My dad, an old farmer in a very conventional Ontario town, must have applied herbicide to the lawn because now that he’s gone, the lawn has gone to a heavenly variety of plants. Here’s a pictorial of what happens to a lawn with some disturbance, no herbicide, and left to grow.

Tiny wild forget-me-nots. Notice the lichen on the walk!

Unknown name, a less prickly thistle that is quite pretty

Ragweed, the kind that sets off people’s allergies. Pull them up! Luckily the rabbits eat them.

White and pinkish clover

Oxalis on the left, something I don’t know in the middle, and forget-me-nots

A nicely filled-in patch where the rabbit hutch used to be

Lambs quarters, which are edible, by the fence. Lots of oxalis, edible with a lemony tang for salads

Creeping Charlie is the dark purple flower in the corner; the white flower would be open on a sunnier day

The white flower is just as unknown as the leafier one from above; you can see a thistle on the right

Where the ground is bare: cultivated pepper plants

Cultivated rhubarb, this patch about 4 years old. I have gathered seeds from a mature plant that I will hopefully harvest from in the next three years.

While this is not my lawn, I would continue to allow it to grow and diversify. I’d pull the ragweed and thistles and whatever weeds surrounded the pepper plants (we weed vegetable gardens so that the vegetables can get the resources and thrive. I’d also mow only the paths that foot traffic might take, to strengthen the things that like to grow low.

But of course, I also might consider having a bunny-renting service. Dad really did say that when they were living there, he only had to mow a couple of times that season.


Also published on Medium.