Do you hate mowing the lawn? Holy cow, I used to. We had a lawn that was half the size of a football field, and I spent many hours doing it. It’s not a hobby. And loads of gasoline spilled, actually. It kills the grass, but the grass comes back after a week or two.

When I first published this post (in June, 2017), a friend just turned me on to the Freakonomics podcast episode about America’s “stupid” obsession with lawns. It has a lot of different points of view and recommendations on what to do differently. Native species, alternative lawn care, and urban agriculture are some of the topics. Listen at the link.

If you prefer to read an article instead, there’s 2013’s Outgrowing the Traditional Grass Lawn on the Scientific American Blog Network. (Comment with any others you’ve found useful!)

The ideas I’m trying to encourage and implement with Rewilding have been around a few years now. I know it takes time for people to accept and adapt to new things, but it’s getting quite obvious that we need to change conventional landscaping.

If you have a yard, please consider replacing it by turning into a meadow or something equally hospitable to wildlife. Insect and bird populations have plummeted due to lack of habitat, and we are the reason why. We can put it back!

Please do not convert your yard over to hardscaping. That’s the status-conscious or lazy person’s solution to “having a nice garden,” and it’s hot, impermeable, and frankly, irresponsible. Other landscapers bill high for that kind of work, so they’re happy to do it — and it is durable, so it’s easy for you. But it’s not what the world needs. The world needs more beauty and care and good design.

A wild yard can look a little messy at times, but I don’t embargo you from trimming and weeding it! It only depends on what’s a weed. Some plants are invasive and undesirable. I gladly rip those out. Some plants are just in the wrong spot and you can move them elsewhere. I would never have a front yard filled with violets if I hadn’t just let a strange plant grow. Now that I have, it’s beautiful.

A new wildflower lawn starts when the herbicide stops

So thought it behooved me to combine this blog post with an example.

See, my dad – the one who made me cut the grass while I was growing up – was an old farmer in a very conventional Ontario town. He must have applied herbicide to the lawn because now that he’s gone, the lawn went off to a heavenly variety of plants. My brother was the next in line to start using the RoundUp, but as I was the first one back to the house, he just asked me to cut the grass. It hadn’t been mowed in a while.

Replacing lawn - Dad's backyard with the rabbits as groundskeepers
The backyard in question, with two of the three rabbits

This reminds me of the year my rabbits spent living there. My dad didn’t like them either (especially the brown one! She was naughty — but “the pink one’s alright”) but he readily admitted that while they were there, he didn’t have to mow the backyard!

This is a pictorial of what happens to a lawn with some disturbance, left to grow without herbicides:

Some of these plants I would weed, some I would encourage (especially in light of food for my rabbits), and in general, I’d mow it where foot traffic is about once a month.

At my own house, I used the edge trimmer and lawn scissors to take care of what looks unruly. You only need short grass where you’re going to sit and lounge, or play. And it doesn’t even have to be grass.

Follow me on Instagram because that’s where I share the positive results first. If I see a butterfly or something, I just snap a pic and send it. I’d love you to join me.