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The Perfect No-Mow Lawn

The Perfect No-Mow Lawn

It’s easy to convert our lawns into native prairies that will attract birds and butterflies, and provide restful beauty for the eye and spirit. After all, mowed lawns mean toxic emissions from mowers, money wasted on gasoline, the temptation to use herbicides, and many hours of work. Who needs it?

Instead, here are the simple steps for creating a beautiful, hassle-free no-mow lawn.

Maintaining large, green lawns is hard on the environment because of the fertilizers, pesticides and gas-powered mowers usually used. I’ve turned my green patch into a colorful, bird and butterfly attracting native garden instead.

The first step to creating your little prairie garden is to find some suitable seeds. You will need to determine from the type of soil you’re dealing with and how much sunlight the area you wish to transform gets during the course of a given day. Purple coneflowers, Gray headed coneflowers, Prairie blazing stars, wild blue indigo and lupins (make sure you get the native ones) are flowers that are all quite easy to grow in most areas of the country and under varying conditions.

Accent your garden with native short grasses such as little bluestem and side-oats gramma. For a corner or border, you can choose taller grasses and forbs such as big bluestem, prairie dropseed, Indian grass and the truly stunning, even bizarre, prairie dock and compass plant.

Find a garden supply store in your area that has a selection of locally grown, native plant seeds. When creating your native garden, it’s important to use seeds that were raised as close to your area as possible. Avoid those inexpensive bags of wildflower seeds you see at the Walmart. Some of them contain “flowers” that may actually be WEEDS where you live. They can take over.

After you purchase your seeds, mix them with two parts sand or vermiculite to one part seeds. Add enough water to moisten the mixture without soaking it. Put the mixture into bag or pail and store in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks. This will soften the seed husks and allow them to germinate much faster.

The beauty of gardening with native plants is they actually want to grow in your soil. The easiest, lazy method I’ve found for preparing the soil is to just mow the grass as short as possible for several weeks before planting your seeds. Loosen the soil with a heavy rake and remove all of the “thatch.” Stomp your seeds into the disturbed soil and water deeply until they begin to germinate. Continue to mow the area using the highest setting available on your mower, until your native plants begin to take hold.

If you want to kill off the grass completely before planting your seeds, mow the area as short as possible and cover with newspapers or discarded carpeting. This should kill off all of the old grass and weeds in a couple of weeks.

Where to Get Help: Check with your local nature center for the types of wildflowers that are native to your area. A good group to seek out is The Wild Ones. They have branches all over the country and sometimes can get seeds. Or feel free to call or email me. Pacificsandsir@aol.com phone: 262-634-5774.

Mick Wynhoff is a screenwriter and producer, as well as the freelance public relations and marketing director for Pacific Sands, Inc. (OTC BB: PFSD), manufacturer of the Eco One Spa product line. He’s spent the last eleven years restoring a prairie on his family’s land. Mick lives in Racine, Wisconsin.

Read more: Nature, Lawns & Gardens

Adapted from “How to Make a Native Lawn” by Mick Wynhoff.

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on anniebbond.com, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

15 comments

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5:43PM PDT on Jun 12, 2013

thank you

5:48PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

thnx for this - we do not have much lawn anymore - only a walkway of grass down the middle of the yard. Edged by raised beds of flowers and veges.

11:51AM PST on Mar 12, 2011

I left a large corner of my backyard lawn uncut a few years ago. I have no one directly behind me. No neighbours have 'proper' back yards backing onto my yard. One day two town lawnmowers blasted through my yard! I got a bill from the town for $250! I went to the next town meeting breathing fire! I was told that someone had complained... that the by-law says we must keep our lawns relatively weed-free and less than 10" long. I fought the bill and got it reduced to $50... with a warning. I'd be terrified to try this ever-so wonderful idea.

4:43AM PST on Jan 26, 2011

Thanks for the article.

2:44PM PST on Jan 5, 2011

I have white clover for my lawn, they make beautiful flowers,
and bees love them...it is a contrast to see the color of my lawn and the my neighbors chemical green.

11:47AM PDT on Jul 31, 2010

Check regs and zoning restrictions first, as some communities don't permit them. :-(

6:27AM PDT on Jun 18, 2010

Great idea!!

9:07PM PDT on Mar 24, 2010

I just love thses ideas thank you

9:03PM PDT on Mar 24, 2010

I like this. thank you

12:31AM PST on Feb 17, 2010

thanks

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