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Slideshow: Eco-Friendly Landscaping: Replace Your Lawn

Replace a Lawn

Lawns are water-wasting, time-consuming and expensive to maintain. In some areas, lawn-mowers are being banned because of noise an air pollution. Many would-be lawn revolutionaries are brought up short by the cost and difficulty of digging up turf and hauling it away.

But thanks in part to a lot of hands-on experimentation by permaculturists, the process has been streamlined and simplified. If the intention is simply to create a beautiful, low-water landscape that will increase the curb appeal of the home, the lawn removal part of the process can be conducted with a couple of days of work - plus six weeks of waiting for nature to take its course.

Note that this process is not intended for vegetable gardening. If you intend to grow food in your yard, you'll need to take an extra step. Test for lead (and possibly arsenic if you have an old apple tree or a pressure treated deck nearby). Many older homes have very high lead concentrations in nearby soil, because lead paints were not banned until 1978. If lead is high, you can either mitigate with phytoremediation (lead absorbing plants) or have the soil removed and replaced. The former is inexpensive but takes a couple of years.  The latter is fast but costly. If no nasty chemicals are present, you should be safe to grow food right away.

Stuff you will need to completetthe task (all available online..buy everything and avoid shipping fees.

Cardboard: Get this for free at your nearest bicycle shop. They usually have loads of free bike boxes they'd love to get rid of.

Sod cutter . We've also had good luck combining a sod cutter with a drain spade shovel. The long shovel can lift the sod and lever it over as you cut. Spend a little extra for one with a fiberglass handle and heavier steel blade. It's going to be put through some tough testing.

Clover Seed.Specify Dutch White clover seed for best results and least ongoing mowing.

You're ready to begin.