Making the switch to less lawn requires prep work. You can’t let the lawn go wild on its own, because it may not attract pollinators, and it certainly won’t make your neighbors happy!
A lawn won’t spontaneously turn into a garden or meadow — it is much more than throwing away your lawn mower. Do your research or consult with an expert who knows about transitioning from lawns. And don’t sell that lawnmower or weedwhacker. In most cases, you’ll still need it to maintain clean edges.
Communication is the best way to minimize disagreements and keep everyone happy. Tell your neighbors what your intentions are. Sometimes our imagination or fear gets the best of us, so if your neighbors know what you are doing upfront, they are less likely to look at it negatively and they’ll come to you first with questions or concerns.
Signs are another good technique to educate neighbors. You could have your garden certified through the National Wildlife Federation or if it is a County RainScape, put up a RainScape sign.
If possible, we suggest you start with the backyard, and not the front. Your front yard is more likely to be subject to weed complaints, and neighbors grumbling as they pass by. It will also allow you to learn from the experience before moving to the more visible parts of your property.
Neighbor grumbling is completely natural. Many folks have become accustomed to the look of lawns in their communities, and make a connection between meadows and tall grasses with disarray, mess, and pests. By following some of these tips, you’ll hopefully minimize the grumbles, and eventually, turn your neighbors opinions around.
This is one of the “cues to care” that tells your neighbors that you are actively maintaining the area. We recommend keeping a 2 foot wide mowed area, mulched bed, foundation plantings, decorative stones, or a decorative fence around all sides of your gardens. How about a bench, birdhouse, bird feeder, or sculpture? Learn more here about cues to care.
If you noticed above, we mentioned talking to your neighbor first. Find out what they are doing with their outdoor space, and if you have specific concerns, let them know with a clear and open attitude. Inform them of the “cues to care”, and that with a few small changes, they may be able to tidy up their yard. Before you call the authorities!
If you believe someone’s yard is in direct violation of the County’s Weed Ordinance mentioned above, you may submit a complaint through 3-1-1.