Cool Green Gardens

Rethinking the Suburban Lawn: National Coalition Launches New Website

In Star Wars, Darth Vader sensed “a shift in The Force” when Luke Skywalker tapped his Jedi powers. I felt another shift today. A big piece of the sustainable landscaping puzzle fell into place. It takes the form of a new website I’m thrilled to be a part of.

After two months of long-distance scheming, the Lawn Reform Coalition (LRC), a new campaign to change the American Lawn, launched today.  The LRC has taken on the challenge of helping homeowners, government organizations and businesses achieve practical solutions to improve the environment by focusing on some of the inherent problems that lawns create.

  • We provide resources for redesigning, installing and caring for your earth-friendly landscape.
  • We emphasize the importance of protecting wetlands, creeks, ponds and beaches from the yucky stuff that silently flows from our pampered lawns.
  • We provide dozens, and with your help, thousands of images to get your creative juices flowing.

We’re well dispersed geographically: The arid-climate contingent tends to be at the far end of the tolerance-for-turf spectrum. I’m joined out here on the Left Coast by landscape designers Shirley Bovshow, and Susan Morrison, plus film producer/conservationist Tom Engelman.

Moving east, we have Less Lawn author Evelyn J. Hadden in Minneapolis and more eco-gardening communicators along the East Coast: documentary film-maker Paul Tukey in Maine, Tom Christopher in Connecticut, our fearless leader, Susan Harris of fame in Maryland, and Ginny Stibolt in Florida. This unruly loose coalition includes entrenched lawn-removers as well as more moderate lawn-improvers, but anti-lawn or not, we’re all pro-science, pro-what works—not an ideologue in the bunch.

What You’ll Find at the Lawn Reform Coalition

A website, of course, which links to people and organizations that concentrate on the environment and gardening, including Master Gardener and Extension Service websites.

Our Flickr group “Lawn Replacement” is the place for like-minded gardeners to contribute their photos to inspire homeowners and to help reporters write their stories about lawn reform.

A Facebook group what allows fans to brainstorm with lawn reformers everywhere.

A printable brochure, and coming soon, PowerPoint presentations to use in your community.

Will You Help?

When you finish reading this, visit to find a wealth of information you can digest, then share with others. There are lots of ideas on how to form a (tell me he’s not going to use that word) “grassroots” (yep, he did it) effort in your community. 

As our Florida contributor, Ginny Stibolt, reminds us, the other man’s grass isn’t always greener.

The lawn rant continues here: I’m Beating Up On Lawns, Again

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  1. bethbowerman 04/25/2011

    Wanting to replace a lot of grass, but keep the green look is problematic. We need something that is deer resistant; grows on non-peculating clay soil; is relatively inexpensive; and will be green. We're in Chapel Hill, NC on the side of a steep hill (75' drop from top of lot to bottom) with periods of drought and high heat. The biggest problem is the deer! Can you suggest plant material? I've read the list, but the deer love liarope.

  2. BillyGoodnick 04/25/2011

    Beth: Me and my functional plant palette are at a 3000 mile disadvantage from here on the left coast. What I suggest is to start by looking at similar situation in your area and seeing what's successful for others. A 75' elevation drop over how much horizontal distance? Assuming it's pretty steep, it seems like a less-than-perfect place for a manicured lawn, anyway. You'd need Sherpas and a base camp to get the lawn mowed.

    There are a few excellent botanical gardens and arboreta in your area with excellent resources for home gardeners -- I visited the J.C. Raulston Arboretum a few years ago and was impressed by all the information they have for gardeners. Also, my friend and very knowledgeable garden blogger, Helen Yoest writes her Garden With Confidence blog from Raleigh, NC, and might have some advice that can assist you. Here's her blog link:

    Sorry I can't offer direct advice, but this might get you started. Thanks for reading my stuff.

  3. gardenbeet 04/27/2011

    I have just ripped out my useless lawn and replaced the area with granitic sand, a bin bar (holds my rubbish bins), plants and seating - now my front garden can be a functional space that has a meaningful role in my life and hopefully my neighbours - i will be serving coffee some mornings!! my mini piazza also comes complete with a clock - take a look!/photo.php?fbid=201740276515921&set=a.201739876515961.43924.100000398490179&type=1&theater

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