What To Know When Taking Out A Lawn

An expansive green lawn may be a hallmark of our landscapes, but with the water restrictions we have been having over the last few years, a growing number of people are looking for more water-wise, wildlife-friendly or low-maintenance alternatives. If you’re ready to embrace a different landscape look, your first step will be to remove the existing lawn. Here are the steps to take to lose your lawn as well as other tips and ideas for transforming your landscape.

Reasons For Losing Or Reducing The Lawn

The reasons to remove a lawn can vary. Homeowners in arid regions may want to conserve water. Wanting a more natural-looking or wildlife-friendly yard, such as a meadow or a native garden, also may be a factor.

Location and terrain also play a role. Grass in shady areas or riddled with tree roots may be sparse and unhealthy. A slope may make it difficult to mow and control runoff. In these circumstances, the best move may be to replace the lawn with plants that are better suited to the growing conditions.

Lawns also require regular and sometimes extensive maintenance, from watering and mowing to feeding, reseeding and dealing with weeds and pests. A large stretch of lawn does not provide the biodiversity needed for a healthy garden and soil.

Whom To Hire

If your lawn area is small, you may consider doing some of the work yourself. However, even simply digging up a patch of lawn takes time and effort. Some removal methods require extra preparation and equipment, additional materials or both, compared with just digging with a shovel or spade.

A landscape professional can provide the expertise and experience to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Look for contractors who focus on eco-friendly and sustainable practices, as they also can help you with eco-friendly lawn disposal options.

If you’re working with a architect or other professional as part of a larger outdoor renovation, he or she will be able to help you and recommend pros for the project.

Design Considerations When Removing A Lawn

Deciding to remove the lawn is your first step, but you’ll also want to consider what you want to replace it with. You can browse through the landscape photos to find ideas or, if you already have a style in mind, to narrow your options. Create an ideabook to capture what appeals to you to share with your designer.

Walk through your neighborhood or surrounding areas as well. Are there front yard designs you like? Do any plants call to you? Snap some photos as a memory aid. A knowledgable landscaper in your area will be able to help refine your vision and get you started.

4 Methods For Removing The Lawn, And When To Do It

There are four basic methods for removing lawns in an eco-friendly manner. Each has its pros and cons, depending on the amount of lawn you plan to remove, your timeline and your personal preferences.

The first two options listed below will allow you to replant fairly quickly. The second two require more time until you can replant. Whichever method you use, you will want to incorporate fresh soil and compost to help the new plants thrive.

Dig It Out

If you have a fairly small patch of lawn, digging out the sod with a spade or flat-head shovel may be the logical choice. You can do it yourself, if you feel able, or hire someone with experience to take on the task for you. Some pluses include not having to rent equipment or maneuver it into place. You also can replant fairly quickly.

This process will take time and a great deal of physical effort, even for small spaces. You’ll need to work in small sections and remove enough of the grass to get the roots out without taking out too much of the good soil beneath.

Pro Tip: Water the area you want to remove beforehand so it is moist but not soggy, to make digging easier.

Cut The Sod

For larger areas that you want to replant immediately, using a sod cutter is the best option. The sod cutter will cut the grass out in strips, allowing it to be easily removed. You can also transplant grass removed this way.

While both digging and cutting the sod out will remove the majority of grass seeds, some may still remain and germinate. You will need to watch for wayward patches of grass in the future and weed them out.

Sheet-Mulch It

This method smothers the existing grass while adding nutrients to the soil. It works in sun and shade. Layers of organic materials, including cardboard, newsprint and compost are laid over the grass, topped by mulch. The layers cut off the sunlight, causing the grass to die. The organic materials also decompose, adding nutrients to the soil.

Sheet mulching is not a quick solution. Plan on a minimum of six months to a year before you can replant. You’ll also need to keep the layers of materials in place throughout that time. While you can install new plantings in the space, you’ll need to protect them and their roots from being smothered as well as ensure that they get the water and nutrients they need to grow.


Solarize It 

This lawn removal method uses sun power to kill the grass and sterilize the top few inches of soil. A sheet of clear plastic is placed over a wet lawn and held in place around the edges. The heat of the sun, accelerated by moisture, kills off the grass as well as any weeds, pathogens and bugs in the soil.

This process is best done in summer and takes about six to eight weeks from start to finish. After the lawn dies off and turns a straw-like brown, wait another two weeks and then remove the plastic. Add amendments to the soil to ready it for planting.

While solarization is effective and faster than sheet mulching, some garden experts question the process, as it kills off beneficial insects and bacteria.

Other Considerations When Losing The Lawn

Regulations And Permits

Check for any local regulations or Strata rules regarding landscaping before removing your lawn. Also, make a plan for disposing of the resulting soil and lawn outside of a landfill.

You’ll also want to note underground electrical, plumbing and irrigation lines as well as sewer channels, to avoid disturbing them.

Local Incentive Programs

Many cities, have programs to encourage replacing lawns with more eco-friendly options. These often specify a ratio of hardscape-to-plant replacement and include recommended plant lists, which can be extensive. 

Good places to learn about these programs are local gardening stores and universities. They can direct you to resources designed for your locale.

When To Do This

Where you live and the method you choose will determine when to start this project. In all cases, if you live where it snows or is very rainy and muddy during winter, you’ll want to wait until the snow melts or things warm up.

If you’re considering digging up the lawn or cutting the sod, any time you can work the soil is fine. Keep in mind that you’ll want to replant relatively quickly after you remove the soil, so choose a time that’s optimal for putting in new plants — generally spring or fall.

You can sheet-mulch year-round whenever the soil is reasonably dry. You’ll ideally want to be ready for either spring or fall planting. Solarization is best done in summer, to take advantage of the summer sun.

How Long It Will Take

Digging up the soil or cutting the sod generally takes a few hours to a day or two, depending on the size of the project. You can do it right before you plan to plant.

With sheet mulching, it can take up to a year for the soil to be ready for planting. You can add some plants during this time, although you’ll need to be sure they get moisture and sunlight. Plan on six to eight weeks for the entire solarization process.


Reasons Not To Clean Up Your Fall Garden

Before you pluck and rake, consider wildlife, the health of your plants and your own right to relax. Here are some reasons to leave your fall garden standing.

Why Work When It’s Cold?

We are all tired, so leave the garden alone. Plus it’s getting cold out. Do you really want to be outside working? Isn’t there a football game on or some pumpkin-spice latte to savor? Let the garden be for your own health and sanity.

Wildlife is Hibernating

Lots and lots of insects and frogs, and who knows what else, are out there in your garden overwintering in leaf litter, on twigs, even in the top layer of soil. What happens when you “clean up” the leaves and chop down the plants? You might be tossing out a black swallowtail chrysalis or a mantis egg case, or stepping on a mourning cloak butterfly.

Protect Your Plants

Leaving the perennials standing will help them gather snow. That snow in turn will insulate the roots when it gets really cold and also add moisture to the soil. That’s a double win for low-maintenance gardening. Viva snow!

Discover a New Dimension

You won’t want to miss frosty mornings when every leaf, stem and seed head is accented with fascinating patterns of silvery shadows — halos of ice and snow that make the garden exquisite. And did you know that a snowflake is a fractal — a mathematical equation — just like coastlines, mountain ranges, trees, sunflowers and even the human circulatory system?

Everything in nature can be mapped out with math, and nowhere is that more obvious than with a winter frost. Take your kids outside and expose them to — math and nature.

Enjoy New Neighbors

Leaving up your plants welcomes all sorts of wildlife you’d never see, even though they’re quite common. What a cure for seasonal affective disorder.

Robin Will Stop by and Surprise You

Did you know there are robins around in winter? They tend to roost in groups, going about only when thirsty or hungry. A heated birdbath is great, but so are all of those fermenting berries on shrubs and trees. Lots of other songbirds will also be enjoying seeds from standing perennial cover, too.

Gardens Thrive in All Four Seasons

When the first spring blooms arise, you won’t feel like you missed them, because so much was going on in your garden all winter long — leaving the plants up makes winter seem shorter. Those first spring flowers won’t seem as much like a relief as a confirmation that a garden never really sleeps, and you’ll be seeing that firsthand in all four seasons.

“Winter interest” is a landscape term that means there’s something beautiful to look at during the cold season. Usually, that means grasses or dogwoods, but any old perennial will do. Winter interest isn’t just for us, though; it’s for birds, butterflies, frogs and soil microbes munching on leaves and making the garden healthier for summer. A lot will be going on if you leave the garden up until a spring cut-down — get out there and enjoy it this winter!


Sustainable Choices For Outdoor Furniture

If you’ve been trying to do your bit for the environment inside your home, such as choosing nontoxic paints, ethical homewares and eco-friendly cleaning products, you’ll be pleased to know that you can extend this good deed into your exterior space too. By opting for outdoor furniture that’s produced responsibly, sustainably and without the use of harmful chemicals. Here are some ways you can make even more sustainable choices.

Go Non-Toxic

Off-gassing: It’s when new furniture, made from non-eco-friendly materials, releases harmful chemicals into the air we breathe. So when it comes to choosing new outdoor furniture, particularly tables you and your family will be eating from, it’s wise to source environmentally friendly materials that don’t release these chemicals.

Interbuild has developed an innovative VOC-free Hardwax Oil, which can be uses on any wood product. Certified Climate and Carbon Neutral by South Pole, a company involved in climate protection, Hardwax Oil is free of all harmful solvents. It’s also certified for contact with food and doesn’t use peanut oil in the manufacturing, ensuring that anyone with the allergy is protected.

Protect for Longevity

Outdoor furniture can weather quickly, especially if left uncovered and exposed to the elements. However, by opting for furniture that has been protected with an environmentally friendly oil, you’ll be lengthening the life span of the products and reducing waste in the long term.

You’ll also reduce waste when using an oil that, when applied to the surface of the furniture, stays in and on top of the product, with no evaporation of solvents.

Bonus Tip: . It’s worth investing in durable covers for your furniture to reduce the need for sanding and reoiling.

Opt for Quality

Be on the lookout for solid, durable outdoor furniture that’s made well. However, if you want to ensure that the product is sustainable, you should also consider the materials it’s made from.

Keep an eye out for companies with an ethical focus, that use FSC-certified wood such as FSC acacia. Companies like these are committed to the preservation of our forests for generations to come and therefore use only wood harvested in a responsible and sustainable way, while also being committed to producing high-quality furniture.

Bonus Tip: The benefits of FSC-certified acacia wood are twofold. Not only is it sustainably produced, but acacia’s natural oil helps protect against the elements, which helps preserve the products from the inside out.

Choose a Timeless Design

Choose timeless furniture you won’t tire of and therefore won’t be sending to the landfill.

The key is to pick classic and versatile designs that will adapt to your needs. 

Bonus Tip: It’s not just outdoor furniture that can be super functional and last for years. Versatile interlocking deck tiles, also protected with Hardwax Oil, can be reused in different areas as your lifestyle changes. Genius!


A Wood Countertop Will Upgrade Your Kitchen

If you’re looking for a high-impact and relatively easy upgrade for your kitchen, you may want to consider updating your kitchen countertops. Classic wooden countertops are a great choice for kitchens. Not only do they add warmth to the space, but wooden counters look timeless and are often more cost-effective than other countertop materials, such as stone or engineered surfaces. If you’re thinking about switching to wood, it’s worth seeking out sustainable sources.

Here are four key things to think about when choosing, installing and maintaining new wooden work surfaces in your kitchen.

Consider Colour

When it comes to choosing a wood type for your countertop, colour is a key consideration. If you assumed that the blonde tones of white oak, golden hues of pine or rich browns of tropical hardwoods were the only options, you’ll be surprised to learn that there’s quite a range of colours, and finishes. 

Cool tones add a modern industrial look to a kitchen and pair it with sleek cabinets and your kitchen will feel edgy and utterly sharp. If you’re eager for a cosy, warm feel, opt for rich redness or the intense darkness of brown hardwood surfaces.

Match the Style With Your Space

In addition to the many colours of wood, there are plenty of countertop styles to choose from to complement the design of your kitchen. For example, if you like a modern country feel, showcase a rustic edge. Alternatively, if a streamlined contemporary look is more your style, straight edges will convey that sleek vibe.

There’s also the construction of the countertops to consider. You could save on cost and go for a standard butt-joint style, which combines two pieces with finger joints, or you could upgrade this look with a top made from full-length lamellas with side lamination and no joints. With wide wood planks joined just along the long edges, you get a harmonious look for your counter. Or you could opt for a butcher block style with an upward-facing end grain that features a chessboard-like pattern. This type of surface is more durable than a lengthwise wood top.

Add Complementary Elements

Want to create a showstopping kitchen island? Consider extending the wood surfaces on either end to create a waterfall effect. Use thinner panels of wood for different elements such as ends, shelving and even windowsills to create a cohesive look.

Instead of adding wall units, for example, consider installing open shelves on either side of the range hood in the same wood as your countertops. You’ll create a sense of space, as well as the perfect display spot for houseplants, glassware and ceramics. Conversely, if you have a kitchen wall cabinet or an island with open shelves, consider lining the shelves with thin panels of wood for a balanced effect.

Ensure That They Last

Acacia is known for its robust, hard-wearing qualities, making it a solid choice for kitchen countertops. It’s also often touted as a sustainable wood. To ensure that the wood you’re purchasing is indeed grown and harvested sustainably, look for wood with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification, which means it comes from a sustainable plantation.

To be extra sure your wooden surfaces retain their good looks for longer, use a conditioning oil, such as Hardwax Oil, to provide long-lasting protection and enhance the beauty of the grain.

Bonus: Hardwax Oil is certified climate- and carbon-neutral and is tested and approved for contact with food. Plus, with zero VOC (volatile organic compounds), its nontoxic properties make it safe to use the surfaces as soon as they’ve dried.


A Shift From Sustainability To Desirable Development

A central theme in decor, design and lifestyle is “Desirable Development,” highlighting consumer interest in ethical products and solutions. What are the key features of this core trend?

What Is Desirable Development?

This theme reflects a basic premise: Consumers want solutions that are simple, positive, fluid and do them good. Until now, sustainable development was often a moralizing injunction. Desirable development gives pleasure pride of place, while respecting nature in a beneficial approach. It’s an idea that is at once positive and creative.

Today, consumers are conscious of global warming, of the need to limit their consumption and its waste and carbon footprint…. From now on, the idea is to place desire once again at the heart of these environmental stakes, by avoiding catastrophizing discourse or assigning blame.

Desirable development responds to a subtle equilibrium that translates to a lifestyle in harmony with nature, by leaning on technologies while preserving traditional know-how. From now on we will talk about alternative consumption rather than de-consumption.

How Does “Sustainable” Transition into “Desirable”?

The need for desirability and the quest for meaning is already part of the trend. The pandemic overturned what was fundamental to us and placed many of our patterns in question, accelerating the need for humanity, simplicity and solidarity.

2021 is marked by resilience, just as 2022 will be synonymous with rebirth, re-creation and reinvention marked by positive energy — redefining our manner of living, consuming and inhabiting. It’s time for optimism!

What Are The Key Ideas?

Redefining Geography

We are noticing a need for proximity, the new development of connections over shorter distances, in reaction to globalization and internationalization. This implies a new relationship to space, a relocalization, a redefinition of geography and a new closeness.

While more and more city dwellers are leaving the large urban areas, we are seeing at the same time an urgent need to re-tame the city, to appropriate the urban, by placing value on proximity and restoring the life of the neighborhood. Local manufacturing, deliveries by bicycle, urban farms or terraces with edible plants illustrate this trend.

Retraining The Senses

The senses, sensation and sensitivity are at the heart of the desirable. The pandemic made us lose our benchmarks and restricted our senses: our relationship to taste, smell but also to vision and touch.

During the lockdown, we were deprived of the people close to us, of everything that surrounds us. The idea emerging from this crisis is sensitivity, even hyper-sensitivity. We must also retrain these senses, which have been undermined by the digital, by placing the human once again at the heart of our lives.

Valuing Learning

At the same time, we need to place learning and knowledge back at the heart of production and manufacturing processes. Now, consumers inform themselves about the materials used and their orgins, the different stages of production, the packaging or the transformation of a product.

Reinventing The Artisan

Removing the inhibitions around consumption and injecting fantasy, audacity and fun into the artist, recycling and upcycling are part of the central tendencies of desirable development. The result: pieces that are unique, spontaneous and creative in new ways, committed and sensorially rich.

The success of recycling studios, creative ateliers, needlework like crochet or macramé, along with objects with pictorial dimensions and totemic furniture pieces, demonstrate the resurgence of artistic reference points in the world of decoration.

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