In 2007 NASA identified grass production as the number one agricultural group in the US at a staggering 23 million acres. The second-place cultivated crop was corn at seven million. I couldn’t find any equivalent figures for South Africa but I do know that we love our lawns and I wonder why.
Lawn requires more water, fertilizer and weed and insect treatment (and work) than other parts of the garden. Grass is also mono culture and as far as attracting wildlife to your garden it has little to redeem it. Using chemical fertilizers and pesticides have a horrible environmental impact.
Why not consider converting some of your lawn to a veggie garden or to planting more indigenous (native) bird and other wildlife attracting plants in your garden? Using your lawn as a small rug in the garden and not the carpet will change the way the space looks, feels and impacts on your local ecology. In addition you will save money on your water and fertilizer bill. It will be a safe for children and pets and your will have a reduced dependence on lawn mowers and their maintenance. Think also of the time saved!
At my Gorgeous Green House there isn’t a massive amount of lawn, but more than I want and I immediately need to create beds to propagate plants for the roof and vertical gardens. Digging up lawn is backbreaking work and you never seem to get all the roots out. This is an old permaculture technique that works a treat and really is the easiest and greenest way to lose the lawn.
1. Layer down some cardboard (you can also use newspaper). Water it to soggyness. This layer kills the grass and weeds by blocking sunlight, adds nutrients to the soil as weed matter quickly decays beneath the barrier, and increases the mechanical stability of the growing medium.
2. Add an approximate 10 cm thick layer of compost.
3. Add some further woody and leafy matter, wood chips etc. If you have access to manure, fantastic! These layers are now encouraging favourable soil microbial activity and worms and enhancing soil structure
4. Continue to keep moist
5. In a few months the layers will have disintegrated and you are now ready for planting.
Your plants will get a fantastic start often leading to improved resistance to pests and diseases and your garden will always be filled with the sounds of nature, bees, birds and butterflies. .