Forget about that perfectly manicured lawn consisting of short green grass and nothing else. Boldly embrace biodiversity instead by turning that sterile lawn of yours into a mini-meadow or wildflower lawn of diverse proportions! The Earth will thank you, though your neighbors may raise an eyebrow or two. Let them.
There is no better feeling in the world than enjoying a steaming mug of herbal tea or hot coffee with your bare feet in the dewy wildness of it all, and the bees beginning to buzz around you. Meadows are pollen-rich havens for insects (and wonderful for your emotional well-being) as you get to spend more time outside directly involved in nature.
Related Post: Plants That Will Help Save The Bees
And there’s more to it than just having a yard to host bees and common dandelions. You’ll also start attracting other visitors including hedgehogs and birds, poppies, valerian, and knapweed. Of course, there’s more than one way to turn your green lawn into a salubrious meadow. Let’s examine two to start the mindset swap.
How to Turn Your Lawn Into a Meadow
If you’re still on the fence about taking the plunge into tall grass, you can ease into this process by lifting the blades on your mower to the highest setting and see what happens. Instead of mowing weekly, shoot for monthly instead, and allow plants to pop up naturally. You could also overseed your lawn with a wildflower mix.
Related Post: Why You Should Keep Your Dandelions
If you are full-out convinced that you should remove your lawn, then go ahead and scythe twice a season — not more — as if you were harvesting hay from the land. You can then use the excess green matter to mulch your no-dig garden, no matter what the time of year.
Why You Should Consider Removing Your Lawn
Traditional lawns take a lot of time and money to maintain, yet their benefits to the environment are limited. There are multiple ways to green your lawn by focusing on low-maintenance tactics such as using push mowers (difficult in their own way), refusing to use a leaf blower, or leaving the clippings on the lawn. That being said, work is still work.
Nature really does know what’s best when it comes to efficiency. The ground wants to be covered for a reason: to prevent erosion and water runoff. Leave growing to the experts (in this case, Mother Nature) and your wildflower lawn will be benefiting insect populations in no time at all.
Studies show that 40% of insect species are in decline, and this situation must be halted if we love our gardens and orchards. With diverse fruits and vegetables comes a diversity of flowers to feed insects. We live in series of interconnected webs, and we must honor them all. Removing your lawn to favor biodiversity gets us one step closer to a sustainable future.
The Benefits of Removing Your Lawn
Patience is your friend as you wait for wildflowers to take their place in a newly created ecosystem. Your patience is rewarded with a bounty of blossoms, vibrant colors, and the sweet songs of birds. Some of us remove our lawns in order to grow gardens that produce food for us to eat, others will remove their lawns in order to cut back on physical work.
No matter what reason you choose, you can reap the benefits of foraging your own yard for plantain, nettle, chickweed, and red clover as medicinal plants to make your own tinctures. At the same time, you will be creating a unique habitat that attracts butterflies and other crawling creatures.
Related Post: Pollinators
You can maintain it just two or three times a year and let nature take its course. Removing your lawn will benefit everyone and everything, as well as improve the water retention of the soil underneath your feet.
Why Grass and Traditional Lawns Aren’t Ideal for Pollinators
Traditional lawns are green deserts that are unwelcoming for both insects and birds. On top of that problem, perfect lawns are often sprayed with herbicides and insecticides as a maintenance procedure to try and keep them pristine. “Try” being the keyword here; lawns ache to be wild, and they can be once again if we stand back and watch.
In order to attract pollinators to our backyards, we need to rethink what a beautiful lawn means to us. Short grass isn’t going to cut it in terms of providing much-needed pollen, so when you are tired of plain green, let other native plants move in to make a stunning difference. Depending on your location, your wildflower lawn may include:
- Wild geraniums
- Wild strawberries
- Spring beauties
- Wood sorrels
- Lady’s bedstraw
How’s that for a multi-species lawn? There are plenty more wildflowers that can be thrown into the mix, though it may take some time for them to get established.
Lawn Alternatives That Are Pollinator-Friendly
The invention of the lawnmower in the 1830s brought about a grass revolution. Up until then, meadows were managed either by scythe or grazing goats. It was a luxury to own such a plot of short grass, but now “the grass truly is greener on the other side” with wildflower lawns being the sought-after backyard scene.
Pollinator-friendly lawns shift the focus from lawn grasses that are pollinated by wind, to plants that need insects for pollination such as clover, creeping thyme, trefoil, lamium, and ajuga. You’ll have to get comfortable walking through a taller green space in order to aid the beneficial pollinators.
Why You Should Turn Your Lawn Into a Meadow
As cities sprawl and creep across the land, so are lawns encroaching on space that should be reserved for wildlife. And as we replace all or part of our lawns with wildflower meadows that provide food and cover, we are able to attract all manner of wildlife.
By seeding a mix of annuals and perennials, you may be providing nectar for hummingbirds, as well as larval food sources for butterflies. Seeds can be eaten by songbirds, and the tall plants will provide shelter for insects.
Your wildflower lawn will not be as neat and clean as a traditional lawn, yet we need to break some traditions in order to progress. Meadows can contain up to 100 species of flowering plants!
And a wild lawn is about more than just plants, it attracts a diversity of insects and small mammals with it, increasing biodiversity with every season.
A Wildflower Lawn is Beautiful!
Perhaps we have forgotten just how much wildflowers bring us calm and peace. Imagine as you go outside, take a deep breath, and stare in awe at the nature that surrounds you …
“If all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wildflowers.” — Thérèse of Lisieux
Easy to Maintain
Rather than mowing your lawn every week, now you get to scythe twice a year. Yes, the work is physical, but it is also a wonderful exercise that keeps you fit just as gardening does. A wildflower lawn is low-maintenance, requires little water input, and does not require a green thumb to keep it appealing all year long.
Return Land to Nature
Prairies and meadows are habitats hosting a diverse population of animals (especially insects) and plants. Sadly, they have been on the decline for the past half-century. Tractors and mowers are to blame just as much as our aesthetic grappling with the wildness of letting things grow.
And yet, meadows can easily be brought back into the spotlight. Whether you are converting an existing lawn, starting a wildflower lawn from bare soil, or overseeding an old meadow, know that you are creating a beneficial living landscape. Read more about the return of the meadow at the Wild Seed Project.
Are you ready to turn your lawn into a meadow? Tell us all about your wildflower lawn in the comments below!