Life,  Philosophy

The Lawn Must Go

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Not because I’m tired of mowing it, though I am.

Not because I have to have not one but two separate pieces of equipment to take care of it, and I do.

And not because I don’t get any actually use or enjoyment out of it, and I don’t.

The lawn has to go because grass is the most useless thing you can possibly grow on any bit of land and I’ve finally decided I have the energy to start a landscaping project that needs the time and effort committed that this one does. Okay, grass isn’t completely useless, it does produce some oxygen and it does lock up a little carbon, but native plants will do both better, and other things besides. Grass is really just a left-over wealth symbol – “Look, I’m so rich I can afford to plant a crop that doesn’t actually do anything!”  – that morphed into a status symbol so that if you owned property of any kind, you’re supposed to have a lawn.

Which is getting away from what I originally wanted to post about, so we can talk about the socioeconomic and status issues another time.

Here’s what our backyard looks like right now, as measured by me and transferred onto a sheet of graph paper. We live in a small town, so the yard is a decent size, though that’s changing with new builds. For scale, the squares are 60 cm (2 feet) on a side.

A plot of our current back yard, which isn't entirely lawn but entirely too much of it is lawn.
Our Current Back Yard

See that lovely vast expanse of useless grass? Sure, the local rabbits get a little nutrition out of it, but they’re picking the weeds out they like, mostly, and there are plenty of better things they could be chewing on. There’s a large compost bin and a small one, and a spot marked “Hay” where my daughter dumps the used material from her pet rabbits. “W” means walnut tree and “B” means birch tree – these are mature trees and I’m only representing the trunks. Cement pad and deck were existing features when we moved in. The Hot Tub Time Machine doesn’t exist yet.

Taking that basic plan and replacing the grass with a bunch of things I’ll probably have to explain because my handwriting is something less than legible for most people, especially when the initial intent of the writing is only for me.

The ultimate plan.

Notice the much larger area devoted towards vegetable gardening. My wife really enjoys this and since I enjoy the proceeds and she always has a lot more plants ready to go into the ground than we have space for, this seems like a reasonable move.

  • The “Fire Pit” is actually an outdoor fireplace we’ve built and I just want to fill in some of the area around it with groundcover I don’t have to cut. This will almost certainly end up being a bed of cedar chips or, less likely, gravel. This is what the hashed areas will be, too – paths to be able to access things easily.
  • The “Bunny Garden” is a concept idea to plant things rabbits like to eat in a place that’s accessible to the local rabbits so they’ll be less interested in the stuff that’s for us. That hasn’t been a problem this year as we fenced off the veggie beds.
  • The back area of the yard is already semi-wild, with a row of tall thin cedars along the fence line and groundcover and wildflowers out to that not-very-straight line. A bit more of this will be allowed to “Go Wild”.
  • The scrawled “Native” is followed variously by “Berries”, “Grasses”, “Shrubs”, “Ground Cover”, and “Wild Flowers”. These should be self explanatory. Stuff that could or would be growing here if there wasn’t a small town in the way.
  • “Water” is shown round and will be a small pond with a small pump to move some water around and prevent mosquitos from laying eggs in it. No plans for fish, but maybe we can convince a couple of frogs to set up camp.

The ultimate idea is to provide not just a backyard environment that we’ll like better, but that also gives some food and shelter to the local small wildlife. I expect the entire conversion project to spread out across three (or maybe only two depending on how things go) years as the lawn gets smaller and smaller. Really, it’s multiple smaller projects. I’ve already started the grass on a die back process in the back right corner, working towards where the water will be. Vegetable beds are an early spring project and don’t take that much to knock together the raised beds my wife likes. And it’s already the time of year when garden centres are looking to get rid of their inventory, so it might be a good time to find those first couple of shrubs or berry bushes.

And then there’s the front lawn…

Right now, though, it’s time to test if the old kiddie pool we bought to bathe Oliver in (and he never would get in it) holds water effectively.

Be well, everyone.

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