Convert Your Lawn to a Garden

by | May 1, 2018 | Aggie Life, Environment, Spring/Summer 2018

Killing grass may not sound green, but with water usage an ever-important environmental issue, more homeowners are replacing their lawns with eco-friendly gardens. The average American home consumes an estimated 58,000 gallons of water outdoors each year, mostly for irrigation, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. “A lawn also requires ongoing maintenance,” said Haven Kiers, special projects manager at the UC Davis Arboretum. “By putting in a garden, you’re significantly reducing the maintenance.” Best started in late winter or early summer, the process also encourages wildlife and adds a natural aesthetic to yards.

  1. Cut the grass as low as possible to speed up the process and make room for the cardboard. For neater edges, remove a few inches of lawn closest to sidewalks.

  2. Cover the grass with cardboard. “Slowly, the lawn gets suffocated,” Kiers said. “You’re basically killing the lawn that way.” In case of persistent weeds, be sure to overlap cardboard edges. On windy days, the cardboard can be dampened to prevent flyaway layers.

  3. Cover the cardboard with 4 to 6 inches of mulch. Once the grass dies and the cardboard deteriorates, the mulch will break down as well — in about two months — leaving perfect planting soil.

  4. Plant your garden. Kiers advised using native plants to maximize livelihood. “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You can play around, and if it doesn’t look good, you can take it out,” Kiers said. “That’s the beauty of plants.”