Lawns to Life!
Background Information & Examples
- Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard, by Doug Tallamy. (Timber Press, 2020.) Learn how to use your lawn space to provide for wildlife and foster biodiversity, by planting natives to create conservation corridors. See also the companion website Homegrown National Park.
- A Presentation by Doug Tallamy – Bringing Nature Home: The Importance of Native Plants. A great overview of Tallamy's work in an hour-long presentation from Ohio State University. January 22, 2022.
- Kiss the Ground: How the Food You Eat Can Reverse Climate Change, Heal Your Body & Ultimately Save Our World, by Josh Tickell. (Enliven Books: 2017.) Discover the hidden power soil has to reverse climate change, and how a regenerative farming diet not only delivers us better health and wellness, but also rebuilds our most precious resource--the very ground that feeds us. (The companion movie: Kiss the Ground 2020. Focuses on carbon sequestration and soil health.)
- Meet an Ecologist Who Works for God (and Against Lawns), The New York Times, December 3, 2021.
- When Grass Isn't Greener: Green alternatives to the "perfect" lawn, The Harvard Magazine online, March-April 2011.
- Lawns are a soul-crushing timesuck and most of us would be better off without them, The Washington Post, August 4, 2015.
- The American Lawn: A Eulogy, The Atlantic, August 28, 2015.
- Grass Lawns are an Ecological Catastrophe, by Lenore Hitchler. Only Natural Energy (ONE) website, October 3, 2018.
- Food Not Lawns A network of gardeners and activists, sharing food, seeds, tools, land, skills and other resources with each other in neighborhood-based, friendship-driven communities. Includes links to articles and videos, and a gallery of “before and after” lawn photos.
Lawn Conversion Guides
- Lawn to Garden: A comprehensive guide to the sheet mulch process This website explains best practices for improving the soil through gardening, including not only getting started with sheet mulching, but also planting and maintenance. Lots of helpful information and videos, although in WV we’re not eligible for the rebates discussed here.
- Converting Lawn Into Meadow This podcast describes the process in simple steps, from The Joe Gardener Show series. (11/11/2021)
- The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden, by Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy. (Timber Press, 2014.) A beginner's guide that includes regional, ‘plant option’ charts for varying landscape situations that “nourishes and fosters wildlife.”
- Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes, by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West. (Timber Press, 2015.) A how-to guide for sustainable landscapes, with plantings designed to function like naturally occurring plant communities.
- Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist, by Michael Judd. (Ecologia, 2013.) A fun-filled how-to manual for the budding gardener and experienced green thumb alike. Full of creative and easy-to-follow designs that guide you to having your yard and eating it too!
- Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change, by Larry Weaver and Thomas Christopher. (Timber Press, 2016.) Explains how, while following ecological principles, we can have landscapes that are alive with color, friendly to local wildlife, and evolve over time—with much less work and effort.
Short Lawn Conversion Videos -- Learn from the experience of your neighbors:
- Lawns to Life! A snapshot [1:53] Follow along with Rob’s regenerative garden project, as he moves from lawn, to soil improvements, to beautiful, healthy vegetables over the course of a single summer.
- Be bold – experiment! [2:30] Leah focuses on soil improvements as she explains how she expanded her food gardening spaces over three summers, including projects to stabilize a wet area, support pollinators, and try out the “straw bale” technique.
- It’s amazing what you can do in a small space! [1:31] Reminding us that gardening is a continuous process, Kay gives us an overview of how she met one summer’s goals to slow stormwater and create a productive kitchen garden.
- Have you tried comfrey? [1:55] Join Ellen in her garden as she shares her expertise on comfrey, or “green manure,” including the whys and hows of maintaining and using it to benefit the soil.
- Caring for critters (Wildlife need homes too!) [4:22] As she works to provide wildlife habitats and beauty in her yard, Charlotte tells us how she has met some gardening challenges. Highlights include creating “lasagna beds” to overcome the problem of clay soil, and adding berms and swales to slow and use flowing rainwater.
- Going Native [2:26] Barbara explains why she chooses to focus on native and pollinator friendly plants for her flower garden, and suggests resources to help with plant selection.
More Lawns to Life! Videos:
- Why is reducing the area of lawn important? [6:29] Doug Tallamy, renowned author, environmentalist, and entomologist, explains why his Homegrown National Parks initiative is so important and offers practical tips for making a difference. (See more Tallamy resources in the Background section of this page.)
- The Soil Story with Pashon Murray [3:19] Produced by Kiss the Ground (see above), this engaging and hopeful video summarizes the importance of regenerative practices to our planet's future.
Identifying and locating good native plants for your area
- Native Plants Finder (nwf.org) Search by zip code to discover native plants, ranked by the number of butterfly and moth species that use them as host plants for their caterpillars.
- Plant Native Regional plant lists are compact, user-friendly, and full of helpful details on sun and moisture requirements, color, and size.
- Native Plants Database from Audubon Search by zip code to identify plants that best support the area bird populations. See also the Local Resources tab, for information on area native plant suppliers.
- Special Collections: West Virginia This database from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is unique in the many specifications you can add to your search, including sun requirements and blooming season.
- Native Plants & Sources (Suppliers) From the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.