A Growing Trend: Natural Lawns

(Illustration: Jessie McLaughlin)

You’ve probably heard of ‘No Mow May.” It’s a movement to let grass lawns grow throughout the spring to provide early food for pollinators.

While the idea has gained popularity, by June many homeowners feel compelled to cut their grass.

But what if you didn’t mow your lawn in June – or ever again?

“Natural lawns” are a growing trend in Lunenburg and beyond. Natural lawns are rewilded in a variety of ways. Picture a yard of manicured Kentucky bluegrass, for example, turned into a meadow of daisies or a shade garden of ferns.

Daniel Ostromich moved to Lunenburg in 2022. The house he purchased had grass lawn in the front and back yards. But Daniel knew immediately that he would leave some of this grass to grow.

Walking through Daniel’s property in August 2023, over one year since mowing, we see grasses in seed but also many other species: yarrow, sorrel, wild strawberry, and clover. We also see many butterflies, moths, and spiders building webs among leaves.

“I think it’s beautiful,” says Daniel. “There are many layers and textures and always some plants in bloom.”

Others agree. Teresa Quilty and Duncan Kroll have also chosen to rewild their lawn.

“We’ve wanted to do it for some time,” Teresa says, “but were worried about acceptance.”

Indeed, the idea that natural lawns are beautiful seems new. But it’s only in the last century or two have we come to believe a “green carpet” of lawn has curb appeal or shorn grass marks a responsible, attentive homeowner.

Now, areas of turf grass – lawns, parks, golf courses – occupy more land area and use more water than any agricultural crop in North America. Some of this area provides space for recreation but all of it requires fertilizers, herbicides, and energy-intensive maintenance.

Natural lawns can take many forms, including a wildflower meadow, alternative groundcover such as clover, a rain garden to support wetland plants, or even a food forest. In each case, chemical and energy inputs are greatly reduced while biodiversity is increased. And in each case, creating a natural lawn is an intentional decision that requires planning and knowledge.

Daniel has spent many hours removing invasive multiflora rose from his property, for example. This plant crowds out other species and has been shown to harbor mice and ticks, both vectors of Lyme disease. He is replanting these areas with plants already found in his yard.

“We plan to add more native trees and shrubs to create a woodland garden,” says Teresa. But first, she’s taking time to identify the variety of species now growing in her yard and observe how they change throughout the year.

In fact, many people who have chosen natural lawns agree that observation is a key step. If we pause the mowing for a month or a year, what starts growing? What birds and insects come to visit?

For those who have not yet embraced the natural lawn, observation is also key. Take a moment to look closely the many natural lawns around Lunenburg. Challenge yourself to see the intention, the possibility, the diversity, and most of all the beauty.


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