British Columbia

Lawns don't have to be green, perfect or flat, says horticulture expert

Is your lawn calling you to work as the weather warms up? Turf need to be aerated, the weeds removed and the grass mowed to perfection? A UBC horticulture expert says it doesn't have to be that way.

UBC's Egan Davis offers alternatives to the conventional green lawn

Lawns don't have to be flat and weed-free to be beautiful, says UBC's Egan Davis. (Egan Davis)

Is your lawn calling you to work as the weather warms up? Turf need to be aerated, the weeds removed and the grass mowed to perfection?

Egan Davis, chief educator at the University of British Columbia's horticulture training program, says it doesn't have to be that way.

Davis insists a lawn doesn't necessarily have to be perfect, green, and flat to be considered beautiful.

"You know that 1950s green lawn that leads up to the front door that's perfect?" Davis said to North By Northwest's Sheryl MacKay.

"I think that's what a lot of people expect out of grass, and — maybe without even realizing — you think there's something wrong with your lawn if that's not the way it looks."

Davis says there are alternatives to the "1950s perfect lawn" that are not only pretty, but are more eco-friendly because they require less watering or the use of herbicides. Here are some of his suggestions. 

Overseed with fescue grass

Davis says most people's lawns are thick with Kentucky bluegrass or rye, which typically require a lot of water to be healthy. He recommends overseeding with fescue grass instead.

"If you overwater or fertilize fescue, it gets thatchy and thick and it grows too much, but fescues grown in really sandy soil don't grow that much," he said.

"You can get away with cutting your lawn only twice in a year."

Let the grass go dormant

"There's nothing wrong if your lawn turns — I don't even like to use the word brown, because brown sounds dead — let the lawn go golden-coloured in the summer," Davis said, chuckling.

"It's fine, it's just dormant."

Leave the weeds alone

"I really think, for society, it'd be really great if we … tolerated weeds in the grass," Davis said.

"Some of the weeds are really pretty, like English daisies, even buttercup and stuff like that."

To hear the full interview with Egan Davis, listen to the audio labelled: Alternatives to the conventional lawn


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.