From Lawn to Garden


This essay is not meant to be long on facts, or another complaint about how much energy is squandered on mowing lawns. Nor is it against open grassy spaces -- it is good to have a place to throw a football or kick a soccer ball around. It is merely a modest proposal for making room in your lawn for the plants and animals with which we share this world.

It is important to remember that we are animals, and thus consumers. Plants use the sun to make the oxygen and food on which we and other animals depend. If you make space in your lawn for a garden of vegetables and flowers and/or a copse of trees, shrubs and perennials, you increase the productivity of your yard and greatly increase the number of attractive and beneficial animals which can share your space.

Flowers and vegetables attract butterflies, moths, and other insects; insects and flower seeds feed birds; shrubs and trees provide nesting sites. From a flat space, consisting of plants of only one height, your garden will create a space with plants of many different different heights, thus expanding your lawn greatly in this third very important dimension.

Great Spangled Fritillaries on purple coneflowers

Cabbage Butterflies on thyme

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You can obtain many good garden design ideas from nursery/seed catalogs, neighbors, and local nurseries. Catalogs and nurseries are also good sources for plants, seeds, and small numbers of trees. If you know someone who gardens, that person will be a great source of information, and, probably, a good source of bulbs and perennial plants, as gardeners may divide them every few years, often resulting in a surplus.

A small forest garden, separating open grassy areas


Your local Library is also a good place to go for gardening and design information. Visit, online, the Home and Garden Information Center, University of Maryland Cooperative Extension. And think about starting a garden in your lawn; it is true that it takes effort, but rewards will surely follow.