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What's the best way to replace a lawn?

The time has come for me to cut what remains of the lawn, or else cause comment among the neighbors. But all the lawn does is cost me money and time. It serves no useful purpose at all. So what's the best way to replace it?

Most of the lawn has been replaced by an expanded vegetable garden -- and I've learned my lesson, during the expansion, that removing the sod layer is bad for the soil! (Although the big pile of sod from last year, composted this year, is going to be sheet-mulched, and I have great expectations for it.)

Should I sheet mulch the lawn? Cover it with black plastic? Pour lots of boiling water on it? Just mulch it and put ground cover I want on top of it all, like clover (flowering, therefore a pollinator attractant).

Readers, thoughts?

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Monkeyfister's picture
Submitted by Monkeyfister on

Fill them flowers, lettuces, cabbages...

Allow room for a wheelbarrow between. Mulch heavily between the beds.

No more lawn.


Rent a sod-ripper, tear out that useless grass, and re-seed the entire patch with White Dutch Clover. It doesn't grow tall at all, and the bees will love you long time.


Hookfan's picture
Submitted by Hookfan on

without knowing your specific environmental conditions (sunny/shady location, soil type and ph, growing zone, and ecological conditions specific to your growing site ) and your individual planting goals (low maintenance or high maintenance reqs, type of replacement, and time allowance etc.). There are many effective ways but what is best for you depends on the lawn situation,with what you want to replace it, and how much work and expense you want it to be and how much time you are willing to allow to get it done, and after its done for maintenance.
For example, I'm facing the same issue with my front "expanse" formerly known as "lawn". I live in zone 5, a fairly sunny condition except for late afternoon, with a sandy/clay mix. There are tall fir and cedar trees to the west on my neighbor's property (ergo late afternoon shade) that shed needles every year. Our prevailing winds are from the west, so every year I'm getting a fir needle mulch blown across my expanse. Fir needles are acidic, so every year I would face an expense to keep a lawn lush fighting the soil ph battle against the trees. So, I decided to let the trees win, save myself the expense, and let it naturally lower the ph in the soil.
Over the last four years or so the signs of the battle for lawn vs trees has become obvious-- weakened lawn (which I helped by not watering also-- I want something drought tolerant to replace it ) and subsequent replacement by dandelion and local moss--a sure sign of lowered ph. I've also been graced with a wild blackberry which I trim and have trellised and now produces pounds of blackberries that I use for both eating and a natural dye for my yarn.
Now I'm at the natural progression point of facing what I want to grow there. Do I want to encourage the continued growth of the mosses (they're pretty but fragile)and what to do about the dandes? I don't want to put in the time to hand remove them and I don't want to use spot sprays because of the environmental effects. I could leave them and use their leaves for salads, but I'd still have to keep them headed and that means mowing with a weed wacker which takes time and costs expense. Or I could use their tops and make dandelion wine.
Perhaps better is to cover the expanse for a few weeks (kills grass, weeds, dandelions and moss) and either prevent the regrowth of the dandes and encourage the moss to regrow, or to replace with a drought tolerant, hardy, flowering ground cover that is non invasive-- something like frais des bois (wild strawberry). I could use a cardboard cover and shred then compost it when its done so I'd get dual use and wouldn't have to purchase anything except some strawberry plants. If I cover, kill, and replace with strawberry plants over time, I believe I can utilize the seeds for more plants as I continue. Plus I get fresh strawberries to eat (I'm uncertain about what kind of dye it would make) and can help the bee population as well.

Card-carrying_Buddhist's picture
Submitted by Card-carrying_B... on

Unmanageable lawn, needing some kind of replacement/substitute. Windy northern exposure, too sunny for sedge.