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Naturalize Your Yard Organically

Updated on June 5, 2011


Lawns, why oh why do people insist upon lawns? I agree they do serve a purpose, for outdoor entertaining, for children to play and pets to romp, but if there are no children or pets what need a lawn?

Outside entertaining does not require carefully manicured grass, all you need is some space for table and chairs, a patio or deck is fine, or an outdoor room that is surrounded by living and growing plants, is great.

Green space is disappearing as cities expand, golf courses and subdivisions grow. As green space vanishes, so does wildlife, and while we may be able to do little to halt the spread, we can use the space we control to create a natural environment; one that is welcoming to the birds, bees, butterflies, and bugs. Yes bugs, no I am not losing my mind we need insects.

It may seem like strange advice for a gardener to recommend planting native plants to attract bugs to a garden but that is indeed what I am doing. Native bugs do not fee on non-native plants so it is important to plant a few natives in your yard.

Insects provide us with a variety of important services they help dispose of waste and help feed the soil as they do so. They help fight off unwelcome bugs that want to at your flowers and vegetable before you can enjoy them

There are a number of ways to organically naturalize your lawn. One is to plant bulbs such as daffodils right into the lawn.

When designing your garden always remember the basic saying, right plant, right place, right time.

When it come to planting bulbs there is a second rule in addition to the right plant, right place, right time rule and that is to plant bulbs root side down. If you do not you will be wondering where the bulbs are.

You plant spring bulbs two to three times as deep as the bulbs are tall. For example, two of the most popular plants tulips and daffodils will be planted approximately eight inches deep. Smaller bulbs, such as crocus and snowdrops (Galanthus) will be planted three to four inches deep.

Bulbs bring brilliant colour to the garden and are often the first sign that winter has truly ended and spring has indeed sprung.

I suggest that no matter what you gardening preference is, flowers, vegetables, herbs, you consider adding a few bulbs at least to your garden. In addition to the bulbs, adding several native plants to the garden is taking an important step to creating a more natural environment, one that is welcoming to wildlife.

Native plants are plants that have evolved here, in North America, over thousands of years.

These plants have adapted to the environment where they are growing and have been part of the evolving local ecosystem for many, many generations; they are adapted to the rainfall patterns; to the myriad of other creatures that have evolved with them, pollinating them, feeding on their nectar; to the area's soils and climate; to the whole web of connections that nature provides.

In the front yard, you can consider naturalizing the lawn with bulbs, however, if you are not prepared to go this far then think about adding a native shrub, an ornamental such as a red osier dogwood which provides beauty all year round is a good start.

Another way you can create a naturalized space is to leave a strip around the border of your yard and let it grow. This provides a wildlife corridor, a place that allows wild creatures to safely traverse your yard.

I am not suggesting you do nothing but that you thin the plants there out, removing some and leaving others, to give a cared for but not trimmed look. This border needs to be about a foot wide. It is a good idea to talk with the neighbours and check city bylaws before doing anything that is other than a traditional lawn.

If you do not want to take this more casual approach, consider planting shrubs, native shrubs along the fence. This is more work, at least the first year but will be more acceptable and the shrubs will provide food and shelter for birds and the insects they eat.

By concentrating on the borders of your property there is still room for a lawn if one is needed or that outdoor room. You can share your yard with a bit of thoughtful planning.

wild and free

Gorgeous but be careful they can take over. Bob Ewing photo
Gorgeous but be careful they can take over. Bob Ewing photo


Submit a Comment

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    You are welcome and happy gardening

  • reddog1027 profile image


    8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

    You and I have a similar point of view Bob. Once my children were all grown and gone, I began trying to eliminate as much lawn as I could. My front and back yards are almost lawn free. Now its off to the side yard. Thanks for the helpful hints.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks and happy gardening

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    It is an interesting hub and i enjoyed it. But, unfortunately we can't enjoyed a natural lawn beacuse of less space. Again, a well written hub it is. Well done. Enjoy.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    When you take the time to observe, it is amazing what you can see, nature is active. Thank you both for visiting.

  • William R. Wilson profile image

    William R. Wilson 

    8 years ago from Knoxville, TN

    I've been thinking about the utter uselessness of lawns lately. Haven't mowed my own lawn yet, I'll have to because I rent and can't let it get out of control. But I sat outside yesterday and watched at least 10 different kinds of bees feed on the dandelions and ground ivy.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    8 years ago from London, UK

    Lots and lots of good advice. Thank you.


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