Book Review: Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 amazing lawn alternatives


Full Review:
Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 amazing lawn alternatives Author: Evelyn J Hadden
Publisher and Date: 2012 by Timber Press, Inc.
Review by: Maeghan Stewart
7/13/2012

The book Beautiful No-Mow Yards was written to give people a better idea of what alternatives they have to turf grass. The major focus is on the different types of gardens one could have instead of lawn. The options include: Living carpets, Shade Gardens, Meadow and Prairie Gardens, Rain Gardens, Patios, Play Areas, Ponds, Xeric Gardens, Edible Gardens, Stroll Gardens, and Smarter Lawns. She then goes on to explain how to get physically get rid of your lawn and install your new lawn alternative. Also included is a list of different plants and their zones and their continent or region of origin. The list is separated by the different types of ground layer plants.
She prefaces her book by explaining the different reasons that one would wish to be rid of their turf grass yard and the advantages one would have by using the alternatives discussed. The reasons include storm water control, habitat restoration, and turf grass having a major negative impact on the environment. Turf grass is detrimental to the environment due to fertilizer and pesticide runoff, the gas and exhaust from tractors and lawnmowers, and also it does not provide any benefit to the local wildlife. She also talks about changing standards of beauty and the origins of the turf grass lawns in Europe where the rich could flaunt unproductive land they didn’t need to grow food.
          I feel that the way she set the book up was very informative and straight forward. She makes a point to say that all of the gardens used as examples may not necessarily work in your yard but learning about your alternatives enables you to incorporate some the methods in your yard in whatever way works for your land. She lists a long list of recommended references at the end of the book so I believe that she is well read on the subject, she is also a founding member of the Lawn Reform Coalition. The way that she presented alternatives in the book was primarily by re-telling the stories of many different gardens all over the United States and talking about obstacles that those gardeners had faced and what they did in response. I believe by informing the reader in the manner it makes it much more relatable because anyone who has ever dug a hole in the ground and put something in it knows that sometimes things do not go exactly as they are in a book or instructional pamphlet.
I believe that this book will serve as a great resource for people that are interested in doing this to their yard but also a good resource for people who do not like the idea of an “untamed” yard. The book is full of fantastic photographs and examples of different applications of these lawn alternatives. I believe that people who are opposed to replacing their turf grass with anything else are just afraid of the unknown and the only thing in their realm that constitutes “no turf grass” is an overgrown weedy vacant lot. This book shows that you do still need to care for your yard, it will just be in a different way. I think the chapter on patios really stood out to me as a great alternative to a lawn in the context of “selling” the idea to a potential client. I think of my parents and their 1 acre lawn of nothing but lawn and their deck where they have tables and chairs to sit at and I know they never ever use the rest of their land. It just sits there and takes up space. Whereas the deck functions as the living area and the prospect of creating a yard that has taller plants or more trees for privacy so they can feel more at ease when they have their friends over would really make it a more livable and appealing space.
I read this book even though I currently have nothing but a cement 3rd floor balcony however I am currently house hunting and have become more cognizant of the work required to take care of a home. I started to think about my parents griping about having to mow the yard and having to weed their plant beds.  I think this book was organized in an easy to read and relatable manner. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that owns or works on land. I like that the author included the origins of the plants that she suggested at the end. There really isn’t much that I would change about the book. When she gave examples of gardens by use of photographs she typically told what state the garden was located in so it was a good way to be able to figure out if that plant would work in your region no matter what state you are from.

In summary: Read this book!!! It's real good!!!

Love,
Maeghan

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