Former Shows & Episodes

The Manic Gardener

Kate Gardner

The Manic Gardener – Greener than Grass

“Greener” here doesn’t refer to color, but to being environmentally friendly. Yup, it’s a metaphor. Last week’s show presented some information about the damage that conventionally maintained lawns can do. This week, we dive into the whole ocean of lawn alternatives.

Some people keep their lawn because they like them—which may be the only good reason to do so. Some of us believe that we need a lawn, perhaps because we don’t have the money to get rid of it, or because “natural” gardens are more work, or—and this is a big one—because we have kids.

For most of us homeowners, though, the lawn is a given, an unthought, default planting.

During our conversation this week, Evelyn Hadden, author of Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 amazing lawn alternatives, lays all of these fears to rest. She recommends walkable ground-covers or sedges for those who just love the look of a lawn, and for those who don’t, she explains how to kill turf for the price of some old cardboard or newspaper (and no digging whatsoever), leaving a surface that’s ready to plant. She describes plantings that need far less care than grass, which requires mowing, watering, and weeding. As for children—well, Evelyn is full of ideas for them. And she knows the research that backs those ideas.

She is full of wonderful ideas for all of us, not just children, and so is her book. Part One, called “Design Inspiration: the many possibilities,” consists of eleven chapters, and at one point I simply ask her to read through them—living carpets, shade gardens, meadows, ponds, patios, edible gardens and the rest—and to say few words about each, because this cornucopia of possibilities lies far beyond the imaginative reach of most of us.

Unless we have a guide, that is. And Evelyn Hadden is a wonderful guide to the possibilities of the lawn-free yard.

Check the blog, The Manic Gardener, for more links and information.