Lawnless yards, where are you?




You may have noticed I’m the unpaid spokesperson for the Delawning Movement of America?  Presumably because, like the perennially annoying ex-smoker, I’ve sworn off lawn myself.

In my promotional furry I’m collecting stories and photos of de-lawning projects, and have recently added three cool ones by S. California’s  Shirley Bovshow to the collection on my website:

I finally got to hang out with Shirley in person in Portland for the GWA event, and we did some prime bus-sitting and garden-touring together.  Ain’t she cute?

Anyone else – amateur or pro – have a lawn removal project to contribute to our ever-growing collection?  Just shoot me an email!

*But….here’s my Standard Disclaimer about Lawn Replacement, wherein I seem to do a 180 and defend the stuff.


  1. I have managed to get rid of all of my lawn. The yard is now full of plants, paths and a fish pond. Granted, my lot is small, but I am also gradually taking over city property on the other side of the sidewalk. The city really doesn’t like you to plant there, and when you do – they like to know about it, plus they don’t want anything over 30″. I am glad that times being what they are in city budgeting, I don’t worry about little things like rules. I figure if I am responsible for keeping the hell-strip maintained, I’ll grow what I want.

  2. I finished getting rid of my front lawn this summer! I cannot describe the feeling of relief and satisfaction…there’s still the “hellstrip” to work on, unfortunately.

  3. I love Shirley’s extreme lawn makeover. I particularly like how the house, shutters, and sidewalk were tinted in warm colors to complement the xeriscape. This is a great example of turfless curb appeal.

  4. My drive for trying to remove our lawn is a high priority for me. Here in Texas with a growing population and limited water resources, as master gardeners we are pushing hard for the public look very seriously at what they are doing to our water system.

    Grass is a huge water hog and in most urban lawns who fertilize, require even more water. Sad, so sad to see the neighborhood pressures on having green and perfect looking lawns.

    I live with 2 acres in a rural area now. We try to remove a huge section of lawn each year (at least what you mow) for better purposes of gardening, providing food for beneficial insects (traditional lawns are sterile for butterflies and such) and be purposeful with it in general.

    My opinion on this is pretty strong. It makes little sense to me to spend so much time and money on something that only is for looks. How many people do you see playing games such as football out in the front yard? It’s only for show… I’ll step off my soapbox for now. 🙂

  5. I find my small 12’x 20′ mixed planted lawn of yarrow, oxalis, alyssum, clover and crabgrass very useful.
    Aesthetically it works beautifully as negative space to show off the surrounding shrub, succulent and perennial borders.
    It afforded both myself and my Jack Russell terrier a fine place to rough house during his 16 years of life and it also is used often as a nice place to recline during the warm summer months.
    I take an electric mower to it every two to three weeks and it is watered ( never fertilized) with a hand held hose ( as is all of my garden) about once every 8 to 10 days for about 5 minutes.
    It is the lowest maintenance area of my garden.

    I really enjoyed seeing Shirley’s horticultural artistry and how she creatively reincarnated those landscapes into lawnless paradises.
    That girl got talent !

  6. Even though I live in the country on 7 1/2 acres, mostly wooded, I removed the grass in front of my house and replaced it with shrubs, a small pond, grasses, perennials, a rock path and lots of mulch. There have been lots of positive comments, even from my husbands friends. I am so happy that I did it as I really dislike lawn mowers and the fact that my husband was always running into my garden and trampling plants. Needless to say I was not a ‘happy camper’. I am now thinking of ripping out the lawn in back of the house and converting it to more of a prairie look. Plus, my husband won’t be mowing around the house and mowing over my plants. If I had my way there would be little to no grass at our home. He is not on board with that idea at all. I like walking barefoot on grass, I just don’t like the smell and noise and time (all day) just to mow and trim the yard. I refuse to do it.

  7. And here I thought I was the Queen of the De-Lawning Movement in America! Nice to join you in the quest. I have some earlier posting son my new garden blog about sheet mulching half of our front yard – check it out. Let me know if/how I can help in the quest

  8. Hi Ranters,
    Thanks Susan for posting my project photos. My standard disclaimer regarding lawns is to incorporate them in small doses where they will be used. Not neccessarily, “rip them all out!”

    I’m not against lawns per se, just the irresponsible maintenance that goes with over watering, over-fertilizing and over-medicating lawns. If a lawn is properly cared for, an organic approach can be successful.

    On another note, sometimes I rip out lawns because I love gardens so much more! My own yard features a very small lawn in what I refer to as my” master bedroom garden retreat” and it is a little green oasis amidst my large mediterranean garden. I have lawn here, because we actually use it as a sitting area.
    Check out the photo of it:

    Thanks again Susan- you are stimulating some great conversation and thought.

  9. I started taking over portions of the yard seven years ago and it’s now all perennials & spring bulbs- in bloom from March to October.

    Asked if he wanted back the shared electric mower (that I store!) my neighbor said no. He’s only got a hellstrip to take care of – and told me to give the mower to someone else.

  10. I think we’ve reached a tipping point, and will soon move from a trickle to a flood of homeowners interested in reducing or eliminating lawn, at least here in California where water rationing is becoming a reality for many communities. Two indicators:

    3 years ago, I had designed fewer than 5 lawnless front or back yards, and one of those was my own. In the past year EVERYONE that has contacted me about a design is interested in either eliminating or reducing the amount of lawn in their landscape.

    On my own blog, “lawn substitute” is the number one search phrase that brings in new readers.

    Instead of “If you build it, they will come”, maybe the expression should be “If you rip it out, they will plant flowers instead.”

  11. We are making progress on our 2.5 acres but still the mowing takes a day each time.

    Our drive to reduce mowable space is actually motivated by our desier to create more planting areas, more wildlife patches, more trees, more privacy, a better view, etc.

    The upside to still having green space to mow is that the clippings make great compost and vermicompost bin bedding.

    82-degrees here today after two 26-degree hard freeze nights.

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