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Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives Paperback – March 6, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"... hands down one of the best garden writers I've had the pleasure of reading. I have a large library of gardening books, most with excellent content, but few rival the elegant and graceful prose of Beautiful No-Mow Yards." - (Garden Up! co-author Susan Morrison, Blue Planet Garden Blog)

"... an abundance of beautiful and inspiring photos that clearly illustrate all of the author's suggestions. Readers who are intent on eliminating the traditional lawn will be delighted by the endless possibilities they will find in this timely publication." (Allan Becker, BookPleasures)

"A well-written book, appealing and generous with information, and worth adding to the library." (Jill Billington, Gardens Illustrated)

"Beautiful No-Mow Yards showcases numerous eco-friendly alternatives to that voracious green turf... With drought and the likelihood of hosepipe bans forcing many of us to reconsider our gardening strategies, this book is a useful addition to our library." (Sarah Milliken, Garden Design Journal)

"Beautiful [and] superbly written. Beautiful No-Mow Yards is just what American gardeners need."
(Billy Goodnick Publishers Weekly)

“With refreshing zeal, the author urges us to rethink our yards, helping us to see that a lawnless or a less-lawn landscape can fascinate us with its beauty, complexity, and variability.”
(Carol Haggas Library Journal)

"Novice and expert gardeners will find this well-written and engaging work, enhanced with color photos and other illustrations, useful for all sizes of projects."

“Precise instructions on preparation, construction, and maintenance, along with dozens of plant recommendations for every site, make this an invaluable guide to the lawnless lifestyle.”
(Garden Rant)

“Deeply inspirational to anyone looking to make their yards more interesting, more beautiful, and more wildlife-friendly.”

"... the ultimate resource for anyone looking to transform a typical, turf-dominated yard into a more livable and lively landscape."
(Fine Gardening Online)

“It has it all: A compelling rationale for ignoring the siren song of the “perfect” lawn, inspirational stories from gardeners and designers enthusiastically embracing this timely trend, and step-by-step instructions for creating easy-care, planet-friendly patches of paradise.”

"Hadden demonstrates how creatively rewarding it can be to forgo the fescue."

From the Author

Hi. I'm Evelyn Hadden, and I wrote Beautiful No-Mow Yards to show you that you have a lot of alternatives to that boring, lifeless lawn.

Part 1 offers design inspiration, with a chapter devoted to each of the following: shade gardens, living carpets, prairie and meadow gardens, patios, rain gardens, play areas, ponds, xeric gardens, stroll gardens, edible gardens, and smarter lawns. In these chapters you'll meet gardeners from coast to coast and learn from their successes.

For instance, Marte planted a different groundcover under each of her trees. Tom and Karen dine outdoors all summer with a lively prairie garden as the floor show. Jay fills his woodland garden with nonstop color, and showy natives bloom under Michelle's mature maple trees. Lisa replaced her whole back lawn with a pond. Julie's family built a patio for pennies. Roy and Rosadelia grow food in their elegant front yard. Ann and Roger's low-care lawn uses half the water of standard turfgrass, while Peggy only mows hers once a year.

You may mow to give your kids a place to run, but for healthy brains and bodies, they also need to climb, to make their own dens, and to interact with plants and animals. Learn from the experts how to find and make creativity-boosting play areas for your kids.

Now that you're inspired, Part 2 shows you how to get there, helping you convert your lawn to topsoil, add life to your design, and make sure that mother nature does more of the work than you do. It even gives tips for making your lawn more self-sustaining. Part 3 introduces 100 choice ground-layer plants, with clues to their behavior to help you site and combine them successfully.

Not all the plants, designs, or strategies presented throughout the book will work for every site or region, but you'll find enough information to make more educated choices about what might work best for your particular site and your style of gardening.

The message of this book, in a nutshell, is that no-mow yards support more life -- not only wildlife, but your family's life outdoors. That's my wish for all of us.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press; Second Printing 2012 edition (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604692383
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604692389
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Award-winning author EVELYN J. HADDEN writes and speaks about nature-friendly, soul-satisfying landscapes. An avid pedestrian, she applauds the generosity behind front yard gardens and the growing push to convert unused and unloved lawns to more rewarding landscapes. Her new book HELLSTRIP GARDENING: CREATE A PARADISE BETWEEN THE CURB AND THE SIDEWALK showcases gardens that contribute life and beauty to their communities.

Evelyn's book BEAUTIFUL NO-MOW YARDS: 50 AMAZING LAWN ALTERNATIVES presents dozens of inspiring alternatives to turfgrass in a wide variety of styles from coast to coast, along with advice on how to make and maintain an eco-friendly landscape--including smarter lawns--and thumbnail sketches of 100 choice ground-layer plants (Timber Press, 2012).

Her first book APPRENTICE TO A GARDEN: A NEW URBAN GARDENER GOES WILD is now available in an updated and illustrated digital edition with whimsical drawings by artist Shari Zimmermann. Part essay and part memoir, this collection of stories chronicles four years of Evelyn's adventures and aha moments transforming a lifeless urban lawn into a lively no-mow paradise (LessLawn Press, 2012). It won gold medals in the 2012 eLit Book Awards and the 2013 Global eBook Awards.

Evelyn founded the informational website LessLawn, which offers advice, articles, and resources for gardeners interested in converting their lawns to more rewarding landscapes. She is a founding member of the national Lawn Reform Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading the word about environmentally friendly lawn care and lawn alternatives. In 2013 she became a partner at the lauded and provocative team blog GardenRant, where she writes twice monthly about a variety of topics including her own garden adventures.

Find LessLawn on Facebook, or visit for Evelyn's speaking topics, calendar, and contact information.

Author photo by Mitch Kezar of Kezar Photo.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Susan Harris on March 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
Originally published at
In the last year or so, we're hearing that there are better uses for our land than turfgrass, that unless it's needed for sport or play, you can save on resources and probably your labor, too, by switching to an array of alternatives - meadows, vegetable gardens, native grasses, and so on.

All good! Well, mostly good - because that well-intentioned advice isn't easy to actually implement, without a LOT more information. Which groundcovers? Which native grasses - and native to where, anyway? How much do the alternatives cost, can they be walked on, and how much work does it really take to maintain them?

My mixed reviews of much of the lawn-free cheering has me wildly cheering the thoroughly researched and honestly reported definitive book about reducing or eliminating lawns by Evelyn Hadden. Beautiful No-Mow Yards contains exactly the kind of info that's needed, and its gorgeous photographs (most by Evelyn and the wonderful Saxon Holt, too) are deeply inspirational to anyone looking to make their yards more interesting, more beautiful, and more wildlife-friendly.

Readers of GardenRant are no strangers to this subject, but may not be familiar with the author. Well, Evelyn is THE original lawn reformer, having written Shrink Your Lawn and created the Less Lawn website back in 2001. She's a pioneer whose cause has caught on.

What's in Beautiful No-Mow Yards

Photos and stories about gardens sunny and shady, flat and hilly, a "shockingly simple meadow garden", a "patio for pennies", rain gardens, edibles, ponds, terraces, hellstrips and more.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Phillip O. VINE VOICE on April 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
The decades-old practice of maintaining a boring plot of grass is finally seeing the light of day as homeowners are learning that they are not only labor intensive but bad for the environment as well. There is a fear that the alternatives are expensive and time-consuming but as this book shows, it is not as intimidating as it sounds and there are various types and options to choose from. All types of gardens seem to be covered here - shade, xeric, edible, patios, children's gardens, meadows and prairies, ponds, etc. Part Two discusses ways to achieve a no-mow garden - how to convert a lawn to a garden, how to design it and how to maintain it. Part three profiles plants that can be used and are arranged by mounding, mat-forming, fill-in and minglers. Each type of garden discussed is illustrated with an actual garden and the story behind it. Most of the gardens profiled seem to be in the Minnesota and midwest areas and none in the Southeast region. Still, the same principles apply and most of the same plants can be used.
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Format: Paperback
If you're the type of person who likes to fully understand the options available to you, you'll love the thorough text in this meaty book. The author goes into great detail on a number of different topics having to do with designing your new lawn-free space.

Hadden begins by talking about living carpets, plants that will form a thick groundcover and give that same open look that a lawn does, while growing tall enough to suppress weeds. She then moves into talking about shade gardens, meadow and prairie gardens, and rain gardens, giving some solutions for each type of space.

Her section on patios includes some helpful photos which give inspiration on some different styles for designing the patio, as well as a lot of practical tips for designing that most people wouldn't think about until AFTER they made a design mistake with unfortunate maintenance or aesthetic consequences. I also really liked her section on play areas, which included some unusual natural spaces that would encourage kids and grown-ups alike to want to be outdoors.

In her section on ponds, Hadden cleverly points out that "a pond can outperform a lawn as a low, open expanse to look across from your home or patio, bringing light, movement, wildlife, and possibilities for play into your garden." This is something that I've seen in my own landscape design practice. In small or skinny areas where maintaining a small lawn can be a real chore, a pond, either natural or in a geometric shape, can instantly add a huge amount of design appeal, yet takes about the same amount of time each month to maintain as a lawn. Most people don't even think of a pond as a lawn alternative, yet it is an elegant and dramatic one.
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42 of 53 people found the following review helpful By J. Staunton-Latimer on April 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Returned as disappointed with mismatch of content and photos. Beautiful photos and great content and ideology that I am all about but not as how-to as I was expecting. Photos while beautiful did not seem to be real examples of what was being discussed. I need how-to on this topic where book talks about x garden and there is picture of x garden.

If I had unlimited resources and space, I would have kept the book but since limited funds and didn't see as how-to resource to reference regularly had to retun. Would purchase as ebook if price was right!
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