The hallmark of American suburbia for decades, the well-manicured lawn is gradually giving ground to expansive gardens and mini-prairies filled with Asters, Rudbeckia (Brown-eyed Susan) and other native plants. The move to replace grassy lawns with flowering gardens was recently named the hottest new trend in yard landscaping by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Like tendrils of crabgrass slowly creeping into a thick, green blanket of Kentucky Blue grass, eco-gardening is gradually gaining favor with U.S. home owners.
Long a necessity in tiny city plots, no-grass zones have been popping up with increasing frequency in lush suburban areas across the U.S. The reduced-lawn movement is driven as much by a societal reordering of leisure time priorities as it is by a desire to preserve and protect the environment. Schedules crowded with work, Little League games and soccer practice don’t leave suburbanites much free time and they’re no longer willing to spend the little leisure time they do have mowing and fertilizing their lawns.
If that were the only issue, people would be paving their yards with concrete; but the desire to live in a more natural, eco-friendly environment has led people to replace one kind of green with another. Instead of long expanses of high-maintenance, close-cropped grass, people are turning their yards into colorful, low-maintenance gardens. Trees, flowering shrubs and perennial plants are moving away from foundation walls and fence lines and crowding into front and back yards. Rain gardens are being planted to mitigate storm water runoff. Lawns are being turned into mini prairies filled with native plants that attract and provide food for birds and butterflies. Hostas (Plantian Lily) and Hardy Ferns (Lady Fern) are spreading under shade trees, and Roses are climbing trellises along meandering stone paths. Pushed by the no-mow movement, the iconic suburban lawn is turning brown and in its place a lush tranquil garden oasis is beginning to grow.