Sunday, May 22, 2022

It’s Alive!


When I wrote about considering alternatives to the typical suburban lawn recently, I received probably the most enthusiastic response I have ever received to a blog topic. There’s a good bit of support out there in Columbia/HoCo for creating more environmentally friendly yard spaces.

Some reader submissions:

I have been attempting over the years to replace many of the grass areas with stuff that isn’t grass. Well, the muddy areas too. First I planted liriope in the muddy area, then put some black eyed Susan’s next to the garage. Then came the rain garden, and somewhere in there I added hydrangea and a small corner fern garden. Oh, and the vinca around the front trees where grass never grew anyway. 

My next door neighbor has zero grass in his backyard, and only a small patch in the front. The rest is robust, lovely ground cover.


I also have been composting with worms for the last several years. They make a great soil amendment. Plant red clover instead of grass! I’ve been doing this for a few years. The bees love it! It does get high enough to mow, but infrequently. It also fixes nitrogen in the soil.


I’m currently reading Natures Best Hope by Doug Tallamy and he refers to turf lawns as ecological dead space.  Does not provide much for our local ecosystem.


I think of it as "working on" because I'm working on establishing the heal-all and creeping thyme. I started planting that last year, we'll see how it does this year. The clover I've planted for years and it's well established.

One reader reminded* me that there’s a group in Oakland Mills called Yards Alive, which is dedicated to this very concept.

You should check out Oakland Mills environmental group Yards Alive! Lots of education on importance of natives, managing stormwater runoff, erosion, etc. I got into native landscaping during the pandemic and my yard is no where near there but I can’t wait for what it will be in the future! 

From their website:

Yards Alive is a pilot program started through the Columbia Association’s Climate Change and Sustainability Advisory Committee to help local homeowners and HOA members in Oakland Mills make more sustainable landscaping choices.

If you are interested in learning more about the concept of sustainability, McGill University has a good basic introduction to the term itself and its origins.

What is Sustainability?

Are you curious enough to want to see this in action?

Today, from 2 - 5, Yards Alive! is offering a “garden tour” of sorts to allow community members to observe first-hand the ways that residents are converting traditional lawn space into something better. Click on the link to get the map of participating locations.

Yards Alive! Yard Tour

Join us for an in person yard tour on May 22nd!  Homeowners will be present to give tours of their properties. All the yards listed are in various stages of converting their lawn into sustainable gardens.  Get inspired by the spaces your neighbors are creating to support wildlife, manage stormwater, grow food and fight climate change.  These gardens all show several unique ways that you can make a difference in your yard.  

This event is free and open to the public. If I were an enterprising young person who lived near one of this tour sites, I might be giving serious thought to setting up a lemonade stand…

*Head smack. I knew this, but I had never delved any further. 

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