Traditional lawns and gardens look lovely and stately, but require a large amount of maintenance and manpower to sustain. In environmentally or financially sensitive times, letting go of the idea of a manicured lawn seems like a logical, if not vital, step.
Return to Nature
If you've ever wanted to be free of the weekly chore of mowing your lawn, consider allowing your lawn to go back to its original state. Over time, native plants take over, attracting bees, birds and butterflies. Native plants, which vary by region, include wildflowers, herbaceous and woody plants. Daisy, sunflower, amaranth and a variety of grasses.
This process can be encouraged if you harvest or buy additional seed to broadcast. If the height of the growth creates access problems, mow a pathway through the plants. A gently curved path winding through the landscape allows tours to enjoy the visiting wildlife. Strategically placed bird houses, feeding stations or cover will encourage more attention.
Some urban areas have strict rules regarding lawn maintenance. If so, dedicate a smaller space to a natural garden featuring native plants. Locate a back-to-nature plot in a part of the yard that is troublesome, such as a poorly drained area that bogs down a lawn mower.
Creating an edible landscape is as simple as selecting plants that you can eat, instead of plants that are purely decorative. Edible landscaping can extend to trees and shrubs as well as flowers and other plants. Substitute a variety of plants that are attractive and safe to eat in place of a traditional flowerbed. Purely ornamental flowers often require full sun and occupy some of the best space in your yard. Edibles offer showy blooms and a variety of foliage in addition to their flavor. Edible flowers include lavender, nasturtium, bee balm and honeysuckle.
The Best of Both Options
Combine a back-to-nature yard with edible landscaping ideas to provide food and cover for birds, butterflies and wildlife in addition to human inhabitants. Many items we find pretty and delicious are equally tempting to feathered and furry friends. Expand your edible selections with plants that produce seed, nectar and cover for creatures or plant more than you need for your household and leave some foods standing to share the bounty. Wild berries like raspberries and blueberries, sunflowers, walnuts and other nut-bearing trees and fruit trees--such as apples and plums--are examples of plants that produce edible items for people and animals.
Gardeners should know what items good for wild creatures are considered unsafe for human consumption. If small children will visit the area or confusion over a plant's toxicity exists, substitute another and safer choice.