Let’s break this cycle: the UK is brainwashed about lawns. If you use your lawn that’s great, a beautiful lawn has a purpose and nothing beats sitting on neatly mown grass filled with daisies and other flowers. But if you aren’t using it, why do you even have it?
A lawn by the rules of maintenance will always take up a huge area in your garden, it has to be of decent size to fit you and a number of people lying on it, playing football, kids running about, picnicking or whatever it is people do on lawns. It also has to be large to allow enough light in and to justify a lawn mower.
If you find you don’t use your lawn much, because you don’t have children or they’re off using the much larger nearby park, ask yourself why on earth are you tying yourself to a maintenance ball and chain?
Lawns are among the highest maintenance thing you can have in your garden. The reason people get frustrated with them, because bits have died or turned muddy, is because they aren’t maintaining them properly. A lawn is a huge area of thousands of tightly packed plants that are cut frequently removing their nutrients. Treading on lawns slowly compacts the soil and crushes plants.
While lawn grasses and flowers are obviously some of the toughest plants you can grow, even they need something given back to them to counter everything we put them through. Scarifying shade creating dead bits off, spiking them to decompact them and add air back into the soil, mow regularly in summer to prevent the plants themselves shading themselves out, creating patches.
One thing you don’t need to do is water them, lawns can die back completely in summer heatwaves which makes them look like brown dustbowls, but they always come back. To save yourself the work of mowing, robot mowers these days are brilliant – never turn to plastic grass because it’s awful for a variety of environmental reasons.
The real question though, is why do you want a lawn in the first place? A lawn doesn’t make a garden. It’s something we see in magazines and images but actually, what’s the point in them if you aren’t actively using them?
In our new garden, our use is different to the previous owners as it’s just Chris and I, we don’t have children and we don’t play sports. What we do like is beautiful planting and so in the top area of the garden I’ve begun removing the lawn to significantly increase the amount of other plants.
Often people are worried that a garden won’t look green enough without a lawn, but fill the area with other plants and it will be even greener and more colourful. This will actually be much less maintenance than a lawn.
It took me just two months of mowing to throw the mower aside and accelerate my plans to turn the lawn into beautiful planting.
Too often I see people feel some kind of internal or subconscious pressure to include a lawn in their garden because it’s what society has told them a garden should look like. Yet they then don’t use it enough to justify its existence.
When it comes to your lawn, if you don’t use it, it’s time to lose it!