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The first method of lawn removal listed on the Lawn Removal Methods: Pros and Cons sheet is neglect. I have used this method more than any other in reducing the turf-covering in my yard. And yes it does work, but as noted in the con category, it takes time, requiring a good bit of patience. The following pictures show the progression from lawn to mulch under a beautiful and highly valued coast live oak.

Small patch of grass beneath coast live oak. We moved into our house in July 1998. The first
landscape change I made was to turn off the sprinkler head that sprayed water on the base of the oak. (Feb. 1999)
Gradually I reduced the summer water under the oak tree and allowed oak leaves to accumulate. I never dug up
or  in any way disturbed the soil beneath the oak. (Dec. 2005)
The old garage, held up by termites, was demolished in December 2006. This is the cement floor that was
easily removed with a jack-hammer from beneath the oak tree. Interestingly, although the oak grew as a
volunteer right next to the garage, its roots did not lift the garage floor. (Dec. 2006)
View of oak with garage gone. (Dec. 2006)
The avocado was liberated from the choke-hold of the deck in preparation for a backyard wedding.
It had been installed by the previous owners for the backyard wedding of their daughter. Now it was being
removed for our son’s wedding because over the years it had started to rot and was no longer sound. (Oct. 2009)
A small patio of flagstones (generously given to us by our neighbors to the west) is being laid on
a bed of sand. The oak tree is to the left in the picture. (Oct. 2011)
A view of the back yard from the garage. (Mar. 2012)
The oak is doing well,  liberated from both lawn and summer water. The collapsing garage has been replaced with
a new one, relocated in the corner of the lot, and the informal flagstone patio is between the oak and the garage.
(Feb. 2015)
The avocado (on the right) is no longer bound by a deck (removed in 10/2009), and the lawn in the far back has
shrunk quite a bit as trees and shrubs have grown and encroached on it. (Feb 2015)

This evolution of the backyard began in 1998 when we moved in and continues to this day as the last patch of lawn continues to shrink. The garden has developed organically and gradually over the years. Other parts of the yard have changed more quickly. In the parkways, for example, the lawn was dug out and replaced with native plants over fewer years. The front yard lawn disappeared under a think coat of wood chips generated from tree limbs that were violently blown off the trees in the windstorm of 2011. Further posts will follow the progression of these gardens from lawn to no-lawn.

3 thoughts on “Neglect

  1. Arden

    What a treat to get to see the evolution of your garden. While fun to see examples of before and after photos of whole yard transformations done in a season, it is easier for me to relate to your pace.

  2. Barbara,<br /><br />We are in the process of moving into my folks old house (they passed on), and I want to take out the lawn. While your method is best, I&#39;d like to be more proactive. Would the black tarp method work? Or does that sterilize the soil? Thanks,<br /><br />Paul

  3. @Lori and Paul. Not sure where you are located but solarizing soil requires a few months of hot, sunny weather so it is not the best method for right now, unless you plan to leave the plastic sheet on the bed through much of the summer. It turns out that the plastic sheet should be clear, not black, especially in hotter areas. This way the UV from the sun penetrates the plastic and heats the soil

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