Reducing Lawn Area

By reducing the amount of lawn on a site, we will help to reduce water run-off, the amount of water used for irrigation, waste generated from clippings, pollution produced from mowers, edgers and weedeaters, pollution from fertilizers and pesticides, and money spent on maintenance.

Functional lawn.
Determine the minimal amount of functional lawn that is needed on a site for recreational purposes. One to two thousand square feet of lawn or less is adequate for most families. This process will help to reduce the amount of lawn that is installed as a default solution.

Use native fescue grasses.
These grasses are more drought tolerant, requiring less water than other typical turf grass.

Use a mulching mower or grasscycle.
Grasscycling is simply leaving your grass clippings on the lawn, a simple step that can reduce what is going to the landfill. Mulch mowers, while not a necessity, aid the process by cutting the grass into smaller pieces. More information on grasscycling.

Replace turf with a wild lawn.
One replacement for traditional turf grass is a "wild lawn." A wild lawn is created out of native grasses, wildflowers, and groundcovers. Native grasses stabilize soil and improve soil quality, increase water infiltration and fertility and recycle nutrients. Their deep and fibrous roots can tap deep soil water, allowing them to stay green year-round. Because of this, California native grasses are relatively inflammable and can provide low-maintenance fire buffers around residences. They also offer a long green forage season that benefits both wildlife and livestock, and can help prevent invasion by noxious alien weeds such as yellow starthistle.

Native grasses provide vital habitat to many species of insects, birds, reptiles and mammals. Their visual texture and beauty make them suitable for a wide variety of residential and urban landscapes. They contribute to sustainable agriculture and add value to both rural and urban areas. After the first two to three years, where weed control is important, wild lawns require virtually no maintenance. You only need to mow it once or twice a year.

There are specific steps and "recipes" available at the BrooklynBotanicGarden website and in "The Wild Lawn Handbook" written by Stevie Daniels.

In addition, the California Native Grass Association can provide direction on which of the 300 native grasses are appropriate for your area.

Use sheet mulching to remove unwanted lawn areas.
Sheet mulching is a non-chemical method of removing the unwanted lawn areas. This is done by overlapping cardboard or newspaper on grass, covering this with layers of wood chips, compost (or other organic matter) and straw. These layers will smother the grass and create an organic planting bed environment. In addition, no digging or tilling is necessary.

Strive to get all of these ingredients locally. For example, boxes from a local merchant, wood chips from a local tree trimmer, coffee grounds, juice pulp, or rotten produce from local shops and stores. Manure can be acquired from area farms or racetracks. More information on sheet mulching.