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Gardener gets unexpected benefit after ripping out grass lawn: 'This is extremely exciting'

"It's all gone to seed in its first year."

"It’s all gone to seed in its first year."

Photo Credit: iStock

When this Redditor traded out their lawn for native grasses and flowers, they weren't expecting such an enthusiastic response from the wildlife passing through.

"We killed our lawn last summer," the original poster explained in their post on r/NativePlantGardening. "This last spring we planted about 800 native grass plugs and a variety of other native plants … This is our first fall so I sprinkled a lot of native seeds to try to fill the rest of the gaps."

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Native plants are a gorgeous and cost-effective alternative to traditional grass because once they're established, they need very little help from a gardener. They're built for the local conditions, including the soil quality and rainfall, so they don't need a bunch of expensive irrigation and time-consuming mowing every week. Plus, there's a much greater variety of native plants than boring turf grass, giving your yard character.

Other low-water, no-mow alternatives include clover lawns and xeriscaping.

But native plants have an additional benefit that you'll see almost nowhere else. "It's all gone to seed in its first year," the original poster explained. "We have plenty of late season blooms happening."

Where there are tons of native seeds, you'll find wildlife. "We've been seeing ALL sorts of different birds coming through eating the grass and seeds and berries," the original poster said. "This is extremely exciting. I want to start logging what birds are coming through and when."

According to the original poster, they believed many of their little visitors were migratory birds heading south, but they weren't sure how to tell what was what. 

"Do you have resources for beginning birders? Specifically looking for help with identifying birds and where they're from and where they're going," they asked.

Rewilding your lawn and creating a vibrant ecosystem with native plants also helps to bolster the population of crucial pollinators like bees and butterflies, in addition to supporting birds.Β 

The poster hoped to find even more ways to play their part and help the tiny travelers.

"The basics are food, shelter, and water," said one commenter. "It sounds like you have food and shelter in the works; the other thing that you can provide is clean water year-round. Depending on what your nighttime temps get to be in the winter, that may mean a fully heated bird bath or adding a bird bath de-icer unit to an existing bird bath. In spring and summer make sure that there is a shallow area for smaller birds to bathe in."

Another person commented, "To help the birds, go 'lights out' at night, birds use multiple cues including magnetism when migrating, but visual cues of the night sky are important. Turning off lights at night helps not only migrating birds, but insects, amphibians, and all sorts of critters."

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