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Savvy renters get creative with 'anti-lawn' yard landscaping: 'Landlord will be less likely to cut it all down'

"Focus on doing a small area really well each year."

“Focus on doing a small area really well each year."

Photo Credit: iStock

After renting a new home, one set of residents turned to Reddit for help improving on their home's boring, standard lawn.

"Need ideas!" the Redditor said in their post. "We are renting a home and our landlords have given us permission to garden/landscape within reason, meaning the yard must still look appealing to the general public. For this reason, we've decided not to do away with the grass altogether, but would like to use some of the space for more than just grass."

The post appeared in r/NoLawns, an anti-lawn subreddit chock-full of ideas for saving money, reducing water waste, supporting local wildlife, and protecting the environment by choosing the best plants for local growing conditions. That was the knowledge pool that this Redditor hoped to draw on when they made their request.

To get things started, they shared a few more details about the property. "Southwest Michigan, Zone 6a, front yard sunny, backyard shaded!" they said. "The whole property is about an acre so we have quite a bit of space to play with. We'd love to do some pollinator-friendly plants, and ideally some edible ones as well!"

Unsurprisingly, the r/NoLawns came through with an in-depth guide to converting the yard a piece at a time. 

"Focus on doing a small area really well each year; if your landscaping work becomes a selling point, the landlord will be less likely to cut it all down in the future," said one user.

"For the front, long-blooming native perennials below three inches in height are always in style," they continued. "Some favorites that might go well together are shooting star, purple poppy mallow, penstemon, and rattlesnake master, and then whatever native grass you like. Taller stuff in the back, plant in clumps of three or more."

They also had ideas for the backyard. 

"I'd pick an attractive shrub or understory tree and put it in near a sitting area, with about a two foot radius of perennial non-grass groundcover beneath it," they said. "Dogwoods and serviceberries are great, and wild geranium does well in shade. Future people are less likely to want to cut down a tree, and nobody blinks at a no-grass area under a tree."

They also suggested looking to traditional Japanese gardens for ideas. 

"Japanese gardens are great inspiration for beautiful no-grass or low-grass gardens."

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