Lawn Reform Coalition Launches!
Plus Meadow Garden Book Giveaway


Drumroll, please.  After two months of long-distance scheming, the Lawn Reform Coalition, a new campaign to change the American Lawn, launches today.  We're about getting practical solutions to homeowners, government and businesses about 3 increasingly important subjects:

  • How to care for existing lawns in a natural way that doesn't pollute or waste water
  • More sustainable types of turfgrassses for each region, most of them native
  • Dozens – soon hundreds – of ideas for reducing the size of your lawn or replacing it altogether – with edibles, trees, shrubs, porous patios, etc.  

There are 9 of us.  Naturally, a bunch of Californians, coz lawn's such as shall-we-say problematic groundcover
RudbeckiaGreenerJpg there in th
e semi-desert: landscape designers Shirley Bovshow, Billy Goodnick, and Susan Morrison, plus film producer/conservationist Tom Engelman. Then moving East we're joined by Less Lawn author Evelyn  Hadden in Minneapolis and more eco-gardening communicators along the East Coast:  Paul Tukey in Maine, Tom Christopher in Connecticut, yours truly in Maryland and Ginny Stibolt in Florida.  This unruly  loose coalition includes both lawn-removers and lawn-improvers, but whether we're anti-lawn or not, we're all pro-science, pro-what works, not an idealogue in the bunch. 

Our sources?  Our own knowledge and experience as landscape professionals and garden writers, plus that of  leaders in developing, testing, and providing the best alternatives to conventional, resource-guzzling turfgrasses. (They're listed on our About page.) 


  • Of course, a website, which we hope will be linked to widely on websites about the environment and gardening, including Master Gardener and Extension Service websites.
  • Our Flickr group "Lawn Replacement" is the place for eco-gardeners to contribute their photos to inspire homeowners AND to help reporters write their stories about lawn reform.
  • A Facebook group – join to brainstorm with lawn reformers everywhere.
  • A printable brochure, and coming soon, PowerPoint presentations you can use in your community.


  • Ask that our Resources page be added to websites of your water authority, Friends of Local River group, Master Gardener group, Sierra Club chapter, etc, etc.   Then suggest they get listed on our website as a Supporter.
  • If you have a blog or website, grab one of the widgets in our sidebar to help people find our resources.
  • Contribute photos to our Flickr group, join in the conversation on our Facebook Group.
  • Write and speak about lawn problems and solutions.


Timber Press has contributed three copies of The American Meadow  Garden by
the very knowledgeable John
Greenlee with photos by the totally awesome Saxon Holt.  To compete, just write a post on this topic:  "I used to have a lawn; now I have
___________."  Susan Morrison is in charge of the contest over on her Blue
Planet Garden Blog, so click here for more details.  She's accepting entries until September 30.

THIS JUST IN:  Greenlee has a trailer on YouTube!Photos clockwise from upper left: Ginny Stibolt's organic lawn in Florida; Buffalograss in California; Pam Penick's Texas front-yard of regionally appropriate plants; and Helen Yoest's tiny front-yard lawn in North Carolina.

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Susan Harris

Susan’s a garden writer, teacher and activist in the Washington, D.C. area. Co-founder of GardenRant, she also wrote for national gardening magazines and independent garden centers before retiring in 2014. Now she has time for these projects:

  • Founding and now managing the pro-science educational nonprofit GOOD GARDENING VIDEOS that finds and promotes the best videos on YouTube for teaching people to garden.
  • Creating and managing DC GARDENS, the nonprofit campaign to promote the public gardens of the Washington, D.C. area, and gardening by locals.
  • Creating and editing the community website GREENBELT ONLINE to serve her adopted hometown of Greenbelt, Maryland (a “New Deal Utopia” founded in 1937).
  • Also in Greenbelt, MD, writing the e-newsletter and serving on the Board of Directors for the cooperatively-owned music and arts venue and restaurant called the NEW DEAL CAFE.

Contact Susan via email or by leaving a comment here.

Photo by Stephen Brown.


  1. I was very excited to hear Susan speak about this at the Victory Garden talk at the USBG on Friday. I just started Phase II of the lawn removal in my own yard!

  2. BOO! HISS! ANTI-AMERICAN!!!!!! You know my mantra by now:::::::

    SAVE THE LAWNS! How else are we supposed to get aerobic exercise (lawn mowing) when later in the day stand in line at the government health care vending machine waiting for an elective mamogram or colonoscopy!

    The TROLL

  3. I just had a conversation with my 70+ year old father. He was complaining about a penalty his water company is charging him for excessive water use last month because he’s been watering his lawn. In North Carolina. In AUGUST! Silly goose!

    I suggested he avoid watering and let the grass go dormant to which he replied, “The neighbors will think I’m neglecting my lawn!” How in the world do we change this mentality?

    My lawn, which is 10′ x 20′ on 1/2 acre, never gets watered, is rarely fertilized (every couple of years when I’m ambitious), and is small enough that I can manually pull the occasional dandelion. Is it perfect? No. But it is green and lush and a great place to lay and contemplate the clouds.

    Lawns don’t kill environments. Imporoper management of lawns kill environments.

  4. It’s not just up to the nine of us to educate folks about more sustainable lawns and/or lawn replacement. We want to deputize all of you to spread the word. There’s lots of good, solid ammunition on the website. If you find a good resource that we should list or if you are a member of an organization that could be listed as a supporter, let us know.

  5. Yes, agreed Greg…”save the lawns.”

    Did you read Susan’s fine print, not all of the contributers to the site want to ban lawns!

    I advocate for selecting “climate appropriate” lawns such as UC Verde (bred for arid climates), “Eco-Lawn” also for dry areas and can be used in yards with shade. I live in Los Angeles…we have watering restrictions here. The great news is that there are lawns that have been developed to thrive with less water, less feeding, less mowing.

    What is so anti-American about being presented choices in order to make informed decisions? I for one, will never tell another home owner what to do with their lawns. I will however, present attractive and practical landscape design ideas that showcase appropriate lawn varieties as well as reduced lawn and no lawn design ideas for those who choose to go without a lawn!

    There are those in our coalition who are anti-lawn, but that’s what I love about the website! We don’t all have to agree in order to present useful ideas regarding lawn selection, care and design!

    Shirley Bovshow

  6. I’m looking forward to the entertainment.
    Judging from the last guest post about removing all lawns across America in favor of a tomato patch it should be as lively and at times a mentally deficient debate analogous to the anti- healthcare town hall meetings in which Barney Frank told one nut job that talking rationally to her was like talking to the dining room table.
    Let’s hope it doesn’t compost down to that previous post’s level of hyperbole , complete with $%&)”!! exclamation.
    I’m going to pull up my lawn chair and wait for the turf tossing to begin.
    Good luck.

  7. The new website looks great and I’m sure I’ll check it out often for ideas and information. Congratulations! [PS: Michelle D’s comment “I’m going to pull up my lawn chair and wait for the turf tossing to begin” made me snicker, or maybe I guffawed, and then I felt bad about myself for snickering or guffawing. But, true confessions, I enjoy turf tossing too.]

  8. I’m just glad I have never paid much mind to what other people think I should do about anything. Then I care less about what other people do as well. The angst generated over these turf wars eludes me.

  9. Also have smothered all but a small strjp of turf. Neighbors still ask why we have so much mulch….and then it is an opening to why>

    When my neighborhood has a lawn service come in to spray….I can not work in gardens. My throat and eyes can not take the fumes. My decision is personal to have less lawn because in order to keep it cul de sac appropriate and still organic requires hand weeding. Worth it to keep the bees and butterflies happy.

  10. Leaf season approaches. The lawn is easy. Get the old rake, gentle scrich scrich of sound, bag ’em and dump on compost pile, reuse bag then keep some leaves stored for browns next summer. Flower beds, ground cover, mulched areas, not so easy or quiet. Get the blower out, buy a new leaf sucker upper, or try to rake without ripping stuff out. Which means hand picking. Which my back doesn’t like anymore.

    Fall always makes me appreciate my lawns.

  11. Does anyone else think that lawn chemicals might be the (or at least “a”) cause for the enormous increase in diagnosed cases of autism? The timing is about right …. chemicals started being used widely in the last 20 years, autism cases up over the last 20 years. I hope someone is studying that.

  12. Tara Turf was discovered in Scotland 15 years ago. Used as often as possible.

    Except where it is illegal. Where is that? Neighborhoods with deed restrictions requiring mono-turf lawns.

    Where can you buy Tara Turf? You can’t. It’s a mixture of locally tough grasses, weeds, groundcovers, low herbs, bulbs, mosses, what the wind blows in. You know, what we had before mono-turf lawns.

    Mowing ranges from 1-2x’s/year to 2x’s/month. Mowing heights range from all the same height to 2-3 heights.

    No watering, attractive to wildlife & insects. In use, worldwide, for centuries.

    Great Dixter, in England, has a swath of Tara Turf touching a portion of the house. Lutyens or Lloyd? Neither? A Jekyllesque idea?

    I design with Tara Turf but have none myself. No lawn or meadow at all. Instead, shrubs-trees-groundcovers-stone/gravel terraces.

    Chemicals or fertilizers? Never.

    Maintenance? Little.

    Beauty? Overflowing.

    An irony, and blessing, this new way of gardening is really the old way of gardening.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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