Beds vs Lawns

Mixed woody & perennial border maintenance and benefits Lawn maintenance & benefits
May cost more initially May cost less initially
Mulching once per year or so until the ground covers get established under the bushes Removal of the mulch or thatch, and core aeration is often required.
If required, pruning usually once per year Requires weekly to biweekly pruning aka mowing
Unless you use power hedge trimmers, pruners etc., minimal if any expenses due to gasoline, tune-ups, oil changes, etc. If you don't use an electric or manual lawn mower, then you have expenses such as gasoline, tune ups, oil change, etc., including your driving time to get fuel for the lawn mower and storage space.
Recommended fertilizing once per year using our PLGF Only once per year fertilization, if you use our recommended special PLGF no P fertilizer. If you follow other programs, up to 5x/ year
Very little pollution created due to the use of hand maintenance tools. Air pollution from fragrant flowers & composting vegetation. Wide range of air pollution absorption. Wide range of air pollution absorption High CO2 sequestered and held as it is almost always growing & changing Air pollution from the burning of gasoline and oil due to maintenance tools. Air pollution from composting foliage. Limited range of air pollution absorption. High CO2 sequestered when kept actively growing
Recommended pre-emergent herbicide once per year using our Pre-M Recommended pre-emergent herbicide once per year using our Pre-M
Chemical herbicide may be occasionally required. Manual weeding usually required Generally requires two annual applications of herbicides, one pre-emergent and one broadleaf. Chemical weeding usually required.
Diverse interesting foliage, flowers, fruits, pods and stems often with occasional seasonal maintenance Various widths of very short narrow leaves. If other leaf forms within, it really isn’t a turf lawn, just mowed weeds or an interesting meadow
A riotous rainbow of colors including green, and shapes all season long Peaceful carpet of refreshing green when kept watered and maintained
Noisy energy consuming leaf blower rarely needed Often, noisy energy consuming leaf blower is utilized
Wonderful diverse textures Single wonderful shag-like carpet texture
Go out and pick a bouquet of flowers, leaves, twigs, stems, fruits and seed pods for a fresh or dry bouquet, Creeping Charlie and Dandelions are optional Go out and pick some turf grass leaves for a bouquet. If available, include Creeping Charlie and Dandelions for accent colors
Very interesting berries, pods, seeds and habitat for everyone, including wildlife. All forms of herbivores including butterflies, deer, rodents and lagomorphs enjoy feeding on landscape plants No interesting, berries, pods, seeds, etc. for wildlife.  Rodents, Lagomorphs, skunks, grubs and Japanese Beetles (their youth’s favorite fodder is blue grass) do enjoy turf grasses and its inhabitants
Diverse wonderful seasonal colors even including Winter Lawns are a wonderful green in season, or a wonderful straw color when too dry. Oandelions, Clover  & Creeping Charlie accent a wonderfully straw colored lawn
If correctly designed, no Autumn and Spring raking required. While many folks insist on removing the Autumn leaves from bed areas, in most mixed planted borders, it is unnecessary. (See our article on our web site regarding autumn mulching.) Two, three or more Autumn leaf rakings, due to those darn trees and shrub borders, are a must. Otherwise the autumn leaves may smother the grass. Spring raking may also be required.
Diverse, beautiful, seasonal interest including Winter interest Peaceful simple seasonal interest with minimal Winter interest
Great places for hide and seek, enjoying the natural environment, watching and photographing wildlife in their habitats Great places for field sports, a picnic in the wide open spaces and watching & photographing wildlife passing over, around  and through
Delightful cooling and refreshing shade Great location for getting a tan and sweating to the oldies
Wonderful natural screening for privatizing your parties and habitats Wonderful vistas for viewing the shrub borders, the neighbors’ parties and the great vistas beyond
Wonderful habitat for butterflies Habitat for sod web worms and grubs
Within design parameters, all of the woody and herbaceous plants may be native to North America. Almost every grass and weed in your lawn is NOT native to North America.
Urban sounds may be potential abated with a mix of evergreen and deciduous woody plants. Natural sounds may be enhanced. Wonderful to listen to the lawnmowers, golf carts, leaf blowers, & other urban sounds wafting over the green carpet.
Effective wind screening Allows the free movement of the refreshing winds
Difficult cleanup may be required after a tornado, hurricane or other horrible weather, to damaged plants or structure Easy cleanup may be required after a tornado, hurricane or other horrible weather from plant debris and structures being deposited on the lawn.
May contain a toxic plant Rarely contains a toxic plant.
Edging may be required against the invading lawn grasses Edging may be required against the invading flowers and Mother Nature
Wide range of molds, mildews, pollens, and other allergens Moderate range of molds, mildews, pollen and other allergens
Very wide diversity of invertebrates Minor diversify of invertebrates
Very wide diversity of bird use Wide use by ducks and geese, especially for fertilization
Composting any generated debris is easy and odorless Composting any generated debris requires turning and is malodorous
Natural snow fence Snow fencing required
Once established minimal if any watering required, unless we have drought Once established regular watering is required to maintain a nice verdant green
May get damaged in weather Little chance of damage in weather
Let’s drive to see the wonderful autumn colors painted upon the landscape Let’s take a drive to view the wonderful autumn color of the lawn
Invite your friends over to look at your marvelous landscaped flowering beds and landscape. Would you like something to drink? Invite your friends over to look at you marvelous lawn. It will only take a few minutes and you can be on your way.
Did I miss something on how dynamic landscapes are with their wonderful mixture of woody and herbaceous plants? Did I miss something on how interesting and dynamic lawns are with their wonderful mixture of fescues and blue grasses?

Lawns are a wonderful accents to a landscape, and should be treated as such.

However, we should reduce our love affair with billions of acres of mown lawn.
Lawns aren't ecologically friendly.
Lawns consume quantities of fuel, resources, cause noise and air pollution, and are timely to maintain. 
Just think, the next time you are having a wonderful garden party,
and your neighbors are mowing their lawns and blowing the leaves and clippings,
just listen to the noise and smell the fumes.

Wouldn't it be nice if, at least on Sundays,
we would treat our neighbors to peace and quiet and not noisily maintain our lawns?

Just the thought.

Landscape Designs Inc.. Steve Lesch © February 25, 2012.

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published Volume 25 Spring 2012

Offices: 5434 Dahlen Drive, Madison, WI 53705 • (608) 233-4215 • Operations: 3290 Elvehjem Road, McFarland, WI 53558