The move back to Milwaukee is less than two weeks away. Boxes, to-do lists and thoughts are piling up. The Lawn Reduction Project is on my mind and frequently rotates to the top of the thought logjam.
How much work is this going to be? The decisions and coordination seem overwhelming. I have to start planning, and for me that means drawing. First, a drawing that shows the current, not so promising landscape: on 35 x 120′ lot, native plantings fill approximately 20 square feet (it’s not my fault, I didn’t know any better).
All of those squiggly white lines, those are non-natives. The lawn – and that is loosely defined as ‘low growing green stuff that needs to be mowed’ – is comprised of dandelions, plantain, creeping charlie and crab grass. It’s diverse.
Ok, that’s the situation. Now for some inspiration:
The book “Beautiful No Mow Yards” by Evelyn Hayden on Lawn Reform Coalition blog
Benjamin Vogt’s Prairie Garden on The Deep Middle
The Highline/Piet Oudolf
Saxon Holt photos on Gardening Gone Wild
This year I’ll be transitioning back to Milwaukee and working for Prairie Nursery remotely. I love Milwaukee, the lake shore, the art museum and the Alterra Coffee shop a few blocks from my house – and it’s so nice to have my own yard to putter around in. But this time it’ll be more than just puttering, as I’ve decided to convert the entire yard to a no-mow, native plant environment, and document the transformation here at The Native Plant Herald. A completely no-mow yard is one of the goals, and really the main one – since I don’t even own a lawn mower.
I’ll start with a list of objectives.
1. No Mowing. The uber goal is to create a yard that does not require any mowing. The minimal dedicated grass areas will use Prairie Nursery’s No Mow.
2. Native plants. Of course.
3. Birds. Plan to have an area dedicated to attracting/supporting birds.
4. Vegetables. Dedicated space(s) for vegetable gardens.
5. Bees & Butterflies. I’m considering learning about beekeeping and getting an urban bee hive from BeePods. This could influence planning quite a bit.
6. Herbs. Yum. Gotta have an herb garden.
I’ve created a ‘to-scale’ line drawing of the property by capturing a satellite view of a Google map and using it as a tracing template in Adobe Illustrator. I’ll use it as a basis for planning and designing areas for planting. The implementation/installations will be done in sections that I can manage — it’s a DIY project.
On my next post I should hope to have a general soil analysis, and maybe even some measurements and preliminary planning…
I’m sure I’ll be learning a lot along the way, and I hope this documentary can help or inspire others who may be thinking about lawn reduction. May it be of benefit.
My Milwaukee duplex - a google street view.
Top view - google satellite image
Beginning of a scaled drawing...