It is probably a well-known fact that I do not have a lawn. Correction: I don’t have any lawns, anywhere on my suburban block (except for the nature strip and I am working on that).
I am a strong supporter of the grow food not lawns movement, if there is such a thing.
In fact, one of the very first things we did after our green awakening was to dig up our lawn so that we could save water. From there it was a natural progression to replace the lawns with vegetable garden beds and fruit trees.
So let me provide 4 reasons why you should dig up your lawn and grow food instead.
1. Lawns are resource intense and expensive to maintain.
Now, I don’t think I am that hard-core when it comes to growing food. Well, maybe a little.
I have seen more intense cultivation in smaller spaces than mine. Only a few mind you, because most suburbanites are in love with their lawns. I don’t know why, they just are. They water them, mow them weekly, trim them, fertilize them with artificial gunk, weed them, use pesticide and herbicides on them, and generally dote over them.
Don’t get me wrong, I used to be one of them, but I certainly didn’t let it rule my life.
But the simple fact remains; lawns cost a heck of a lot of money and your precious time to maintain in pristine condition. And you get to waste lots of water for no benefit whatsoever, which is not the right thing to do in a drought stricken country like Australia.
On the other hand growing fruit and vegetables takes a lot less time, money, and resources. Best of all, you get something in return. You get food on the table for a bargain basement price.
2. Front lawns are for your neighbours, not you.
Once I thought in this way, it was almost impossible to not dig up my lawn. People maintain front lawns for only a few basic reasons. One, to impress the neighbours. Two, to raise the perceived value of their home, and Three, to keep lawnmower manufacturers and services in business.
Have a think how many times you use your front lawn. I bet it is not very many. How many times a day do you actually see it? Twice, once when backing out of the driveway on the way to work, and another when you get home? Is it really worth all that hassle. Then only person that actually gets to visually enjoy your front lawn is your neighbours across the road. Weird.
Dig it up and use the space for yourself. Grow fruit trees on dwarf root-stock and you will be able to feed yourself most of the year round.
3. We can’t eat lawns
When push comes to shove, the real reason you should dig up your lawn is that we can’t eat it. If you are suddenly out of work and struggling to make ends meet, are you A) going to mow the lawn and make a salad out of it, or B) going to pick some pumpkins or tomatoes that you have grown in your veggie patch where the lawn used to be?
I think B is by far the more palatable option (pun intended). Food is going to help you in a crisis, lawn will not. Unless you get a goat and let it eat your lawn, then milk it and make delicious cheese. But then it wouldn’t be a lawn, it would be a pasture. Big difference!
4. Grow Food Not Lawns
Let me show you a couple of photos from the front of my house, and you decide what looks better.
This is what the front of our house used to look like few years ago. A pain to mow, and we hardly ever used it. It was a big waste of space. Boring and inedible.
Compare that scene to this photo I took this today.
In this scene I can see five fruiting trees and two types of vegetable (pumpkin and long yellow peppers), and this is only a part of the lawn. It is much more productive than the first picture way back before we dug up the lawn. There are 12 Queensland Blue pumpkins hidden throughout the pumpkin patch.
Not convinced yet?
Here are a couple more from the west side of the house which is our main entrance.
It’s all about the productivity. Why slave at a job to pay off your little patch of suburban paradise, if all you are going to use it for is to grow an unproductive lawn? At least do something productive with it, like maybe, grow some food! Fruit trees don’t need that much care during the year. A little bit of a prune in late summer, early autumn, a bit of water if it hasn’t rained in a while, and maybe a net to keep the birds off your abundant harvest.
That’s it. They look after themselves, finding their own water and nutrients from the soil. Pretty cool, and beats lawns hands down any time. You can even grow fruit trees in large pots with good success. All of my citrus trees are in pots and producing masses of fruit each year.
Vegetables are even easier. Once you have good soil to plant them in, or build raised garden beds as I have, then the rest is easy. Plant seeds, water, weed occasionally, then harvest and eat.
Not a lawn mower or can of fuel in sight.
So what are you waiting for. By digging up your lawn and growing your own food, not only are you providing for yourself, but you are growing nutritious and delicious fare for your family and friends. I hope to see the day when the resale value of a home is determines by how much food is grown on the block.
Now that is when suburban land is truly valued, and not the urban food desert that it is today. After all, most suburbs were farm land to begin with, so we are only returning it to from whence it came!
Have I convinced you to dig up your lawn, or have you already taken the leap towards being lawn-less? Chime in with comments, observations from your own experience, or even questions.