Re-wild your lawn
You may have never really noticed lawns before. They are pretty unremarkable and a standard element in nearly every landscape around the world. But before lawns were so common, people either used their land to grow food or let it grow wild. It wasn’t until 16th century Europe that lawns became a status symbol, indicating that a homeowner could afford to use the land for decoration and hire maintenance staff to keep it tidy and green.
And these patches of grass may seem harmless but they have significant ecological impact. Unlike the native plants that preceded them, lawns do not provide food for bugs and pollinators, shelter for local wildlife, or soil structure for insect life and growing food. They do not produce much oxygen or capture much carbon. For these reasons, ecologists call lawns green deserts that have contributed to the habitat loss contributing to mass species decline and extinction. Not to mention the amount of water and sometimes fertilizer and pesticides that are needed to keep lawns looking nice and weed free and the implications of that.
So, on board with re-wilding? Great. Start researching what species are native to your area and start buying seeds over the winter. You can also talk to local plant nurseries who can guide you on what plants will do well in shady or sunny areas and require less water. Also consider if you want to incorporate growing some food into your new productive lawn. Once you’ve decided on the plants you want, design a plan for how to lay it out in a way that will be pleasing to you. When you’re first starting out, it’s best to start small so that you aren’t overwhelmed with the task. Pick one part of your lawn to start with and build it over time.
If you’re worried about what your neighbours might think, consider creating a sign that says that you are re-wilding your lawn to help local biodiversity. Then they know that your lawn is looking different by design and, you never know, you might inspire a neighbour to do the same.