american lawn evolution

Rebranding the Great American Lawn for the 21st Century

The idyllic grass lawn is evolving.

Once the stuff of suburban legend, plush plots of perfectly mowed, manicured turf—enclosed by iconic white picket fences—stand in verdant opposition to new-age sustainability efforts that prioritize native plants and rewilding. Factor in the record-breaking droughts plaguing the nation, dwindling pollinator populations, new aesthetic trends, and a desire for lower-maintenance landscapes, and this truth becomes difficult to deny: Grass might not actually be greener on the other side of climate change. 

We can sow a better future in a myriad of ways, from embracing lawn alternatives and xeriscaping to adding drought-tolerant plants to our yards and getting smarter about water conservation. We'll help you plant the seed so nature can do the rest.

traditional lawn in front of blue house


Are Picture-Perfect Grass Lawns on Their Way Out? Why Natural Is the New Beautiful

If you grew up in the suburbs, you know what Saturday morning looks, sounds, and smells like: diagonal turf lines, the deep belly roar of the mower, and freshly cut grass. It's a transportive scene, but the nostalgia pre-dates your childhood. The perfect lawn's origin story spans centuries and continents, and took root stateside in the wake of World War II. Since then, it's become a symbol of Americana, an emblem of wealth and shared values. But like your weekly mowing direction, that's all about to change, according to garden and landscape experts.

As the nation beats against climate change's current, our lawns will shift, becoming less homogeneous and increasingly sustainable. They will serve as a boon to local flora and fauna, thrive sans water, chemicals, and maintenance, and bring texture, animation, and color to our landscapes. This is a good thing: The American lawn of the future is less work for you and the planet. Keep an open mind, and we'll give you more reasons why.

Alternative lawn, xeriscaping lawn with ornamental grasses

welcomia / GETTY IMAGES

What Is the Anti-Lawn Movement?

Though the anti-lawn movement—also known as rewilding—has existed for decades, it has gained momentum in recent years as sustainability becomes increasingly mainstream. Driven by social media, grassroots efforts across the country, and new laws cracking down on decorative turf, the initiative challenges homeowners to buck conventional grass and replace it with something better for the earth. Here's what that means, how this movement got started, and what it says about the future of the American lawn.

garden path made with gravel and stones


9 Alternatives to a Traditional Lawn

Grass requires a great deal of maintenance, from mowing and chemical treatments to large volumes of water. If you're ready to make a change, there are a handful of lawn alternatives—such as ground cover, wildflower meadows, and gravel gardens—that require little to no effort to thrive, are beneficial to our ecosystem, and are beautiful to boot.

raised steel bed vegetable garden
David Fenton

How to Save Water in Your Yard

Whether you live in a drought zone with water use restrictions, want to be more earth-conscious and reduce your output, or both, there are so many ways to limit the amount of water you use on your lawn and in your garden. From timing irrigation sessions just right to adding protective mulch and ground cover to your landscape, discover all of the water-wise actions you can take this summer.

lavender flowers


12 Drought-Resistant Plants That Will Help You Conserve Water

The best way to save water in your yard is to prioritize drought-resistant plants which will thrive in even the driest conditions. Though many of the varieties that beat the heat will be native to your locale (so get to know your garden zone before you start!), we rounded up a list of the hardiest options that won't burn or wilt during summer's inevitable heat wave.

Landscape design with palm trees and flowers. Top view of the modern garden design with a terrace.
Irina Selina / GETTY IMAGES

Xeriscaping Ideas That Will Make Your Garden More Hands-Off

If you live in an area where droughts are common, or if you're looking to reduce your landscape's watering needs, consider turning to xeriscaping. In its simplest form, this garden system is focused on water conservation and requires little to no supplemental irrigation. Adopting this system also means less work for you: The style of gardening typically includes plants that are drought tolerant and can withstand infrequent maintenance.

close-up of rock steps in desert garden
Getty / AnnBaldwin

Creative Rock Garden Ideas to Consider for Your Own Yard

Whether you choose sand-hued gravel, smooth river rocks, or large boulders, incorporating stone into your garden's design brings natural texture and color to flowers, trees, and shrubs. Rock gardens also support native plants (these varieties often live among or even on top of rocks). Place stones in areas where grass just won't grow (or in lieu of turf altogether!) to create a more sustainable landscaping system.

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