Reduce Your Lawn
Grass lawns have become so integrated into our society that we cannot imagine a life without them. So why would we want to intentionally reduce them?
To start, the grass lawns that we have across the US today are invasive species that were originally brought over as seeds from Europe. As we know, invasive species require significantly more maintenance, water, fertilizers, and pesticides since they have not evolved to grow in the areas they have been introduced. In addition, grass lawns are a monocrop that does not provide adequate habitat for native fauna.
Fortunately, there are several lawn alternatives that ecologically- minded homeowners are turning to across Vermont.
Reduce your lawn by replacing it with native lawn alternatives and incorporating additional trees, shrubs, or flowers.
A native meadow is a field made up of native grasses, herbaceous vegetation, and wildflowers as opposed to trees or lawn. Native meadows are a great stormwater management technique in Vermont because they provide stormwater treatment, increase soil stability, increase flood and drought resilience, demand less water and maintenance, and can also provide critical habitat for native pollinators and other species.
Want to join the growing number of homeowners who are converting portions of their lawn to native meadow?
Here is how you can get started:
Test your soil! Start by understanding what nutrients are currently in your soil in order to know what nutrients you need to add, if any.
Consider bloom times. Select flowers that bloom during many different months to keep your meadow attractive and evolving for pollinators.
Plant a range of species. It is important to have plants of various heights and colors to draw a range of pollinators. Having a diverse set of plants is also generally more aesthetically appealing.
Don’t forget native grasses. Native meadows should consist of 30-70% grass.
Photo courtesy Vermont Public Radio.
No-Mow Zone & Buffers
A No-Mow zone takes an area that was previously lawn and reduces maintenance by either limiting or eliminating mowing. This zone could develop naturally by letting native wildflowers and small shrubs reestablish and act as a buffer.
A No-Mow zone has several added benefits compared to a traditional lawn in terms of filtering stormwater, reducing erosion, and adding wildlife habitat. It is an important stormwater practice because it allows for deeper roots to stabilize soil and prevent erosion during the winter and during heavy rains.
No-Mow is recommended as a buffer. A no-mow zone can be easily created around a maintained lawn or property. If the lawn is well maintained and mowed at the edge where it meets the No-Mow, it looks intentional, interesting, and beautiful. Native wildflowers are recommended for No-Mow gardens.
Here is how you can get started:
Stop mowing where you want your No-Mow buffer. If you want to maintain a portion of your grass as lawn, simply mow up to the edge of the buffer so it is viewed as intentional.
Selectively prune out some species while encouraging others. Remember that you have control of what species grow in your No-Mow buffer. Think of it as a stormwater-friendly and ecologically-friendly garden.
Add native plants and flowers you would like to see. Make the garden buffer your own, and something you love looking at. Remember to mow the border so it looks clean and thoughtful.