Q: What is key in planning for a natural lawn and garden?

Answer: Natural gardening starts at the planning stage. Everything from selecting the most appropriate plants for the location to the physical layout of the garden is important to growing healthy plants and grass.

natural gardening tips attract butterfliesBefore planting grass, plants and trees consider the following:

  • Soil is the foundation. You need healthy, fertile soil to grow healthy grass, plants and trees. The main challenge for the urban gardener is that the soil under urban lawns often has low organic content.

    An important goal is to increase the percentage of organic matter in your soil. Organic matter is a combination of living organisms, plant wastes and humus that is critical to growing plants and grass.

  • Know your property; plant the correct material for the given soil, light and water conditions.
  • Consider including native plant species in your garden. A native plant will be better adapted to the local conditions and less prone to disease.
  • Use alternative ground covers in areas where grass doesn’t thrive such as under shade trees. Attractive alternatives to grass in these areas are plants such as sweet woodruff or pachysandra or mulching materials such as bark chips.
  • Plant a variety of flowering plants that will attract birds and beneficial insects that are natural enemies of plant pests.

In addition to soil preparation and plant selection, design ideas can also prevent problems:

  • Use hard landscape materials like bricks, stones or edging material to separate garden beds from grass. This eliminates the temptation to use herbicides in garden edges.
  • Surround trees and shrubs with wells that either have other plant material or mulch. This protects your trees from mower damage.


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