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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE definitive helpful and inspiring work on reducing lawns.
Originally published at GardenRant.com
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...
Published on March 30, 2012 by Susan Harris

versus
39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Returned as disappointed with mismatch of content and photos
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...
Published on April 19, 2012 by J. Staunton-Latimer


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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE definitive helpful and inspiring work on reducing lawns., March 30, 2012
This review is from: Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives (Paperback)
Originally published at GardenRant.com
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.
"Smarter lawns" using fine fescue mixes, carexes, and other low-resource grass types, including where each type works best and what it takes to install and maintain them.
Real gardeners and the truth about their attempts to replace their lawns, failures and all.
How-to chapters for killing the lawn, designing alternatives, and maintaining them.
An illustrated guide to groundcovers by type.

It's a important, beautiful, and superbly written. Great job!
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Out with the lawn!, April 27, 2012
This review is from: Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives (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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed, innovative, thorough text, but wishing for more illustrative photos, December 29, 2012
This review is from: Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives (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.

She also discusses xeric gardens, edible gardens, stroll gardens, and smarter lawns which get a more lawn-like effect without needing so much mowing or care. Towards the end, she talks honestly and clearly about the installation and maintenance processes of some of the techniques she espouses (a refreshing change from many design books, which act as though gardens just maintain themselves), and then has a small encyclopedia, about 30 pages long, of recommended plants. While plant choices in a general sense are so specific to each region, the author does a good job of covering a variety of plants that do well across the country. You will still need to check her recommendations with a local landscape consultant or nursery to make sure that these plants will grow well in your region, but that is the case with plant recommendations in any book.

I have two minor complaints. First, the text is printed smaller than I'd like and is printed in a brown color that is harder to read than black, which leads me to think that perhaps this would be better as a digital edition than on paper, so you can adjust the text size if needed. Second, I wish the publisher had worked with the author to find more photos of design solutions. While there are beautiful photographs on every page, about half of the photos are close-ups of plants or don't reflect the new ideas the author is sharing in her text. I would have liked about half of the photos replaced with more effective ones.

However, the text itself is outstanding; thoughtful, detailed, horticulturally accurate and full of innovative ideas. I love the author's emphasis on environmentally friendly techniques for installing and maintaining your new lawn free space. And I really liked the sheer number of inspiring ideas and different approaches that she suggested. I think that if this book goes into a second edition, I'd recommend a larger hardcover format with glossy pages that would allow the hopefully expanded selection of photographs to shine even better, and the text to have enough space to be more easily scannable.

Overall, if you're a homeowner looking to replace your lawn with something a little bit more useful and interesting, this book would be a great place to start. You'll find the author answers nearly any question you might have about the different styles of garden or planting you'll be considering for your new garden space, so your book will end up dogeared and well used.
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39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Returned as disappointed with mismatch of content and photos, April 19, 2012
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This review is from: Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives (Paperback)
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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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 50 Reasons to Rethink Your Lawn, March 29, 2012
This review is from: Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives (Paperback)
[Originally reviewed at Fine Gardening Magazine website - authored by Billy Goodnick at Cool Green Gardens blog]

Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives, by Evelyn J. Hadden (Timber Press) 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.

That's why we're giving a copy away.

The back cover of this beautifully photographed, idea-packed book provocatively asks, "What has your lawn done for you lately? Is it really worth the time, effort, and resources you lavish on it?"

I'll give you a minute. Close your eyes (unless you're driving while reading on your smart phone) and ponder these questions that many otherwise sensible gardeners overlook. Though Hadden isn't a zero-tolerance, anti-lawn zealot (she makes the case that as a recreational surface, sensible "smarter lawns" are the still best choice of garden floors), it's hard to read this book and not want to run outside and Kevorkianize that patch of green that sucks the life out of precious weekends and strains checkbooks.

Evelyn is a passionate gardener with a strong connection to the natural environment. In favor of the often chemically-treated, paralyzingly boring monoculture that is turfgrass, she reminds us of the effervescent diversity of a mixed meadow. She entices us to experience the subtle beauty of a living carpet of ground covers, the utility of water-purifying rain gardens, and the family fun that comes from a space where children can play and explore.

In part one, Design Inspiration: The Many Possibilities, Evelyn taps into her hands-on experience working on her own 5-acre lot on the outskirts of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. She's been using this living lab to refine her ideas for creating a naturalistic landscape, and doing it with a chemical-free approach. She also includes the experiences and words of dozens of gardeners and designers from every growing zone, offering examples of no-mow solutions for every situation. (I'm honored to have one of my favorites designs included in the Xeric Gardens section.) Among the ten other approaches are sections titled living carpets, shade gardens, rain gardens, play areas, edible gardens, and for those not willing to completely sever their turf attachment, smarter lawns.

It's one thing to offer impassioned words of inspiration, and quite another to get down to the dirty, soul-satisfying work of bringing the vision to reality. Part two, How to Get There, offers ways to convert an existing lawn into a no-mow garden using eco-friendly methods. And since these types of yards might be a new concept for folks who's gardening experience is limited to breathing mower fumes, there's plenty of advice for getting started. Hadden is no Pollyanna, and faces head-on some of the initial bumps (or clods) on the path to a lawnless garden. The key is what the author calls "partnering with nature."

"The most successful no-mow yards work like a natural system, made up of not just plants that are native to the area, but based on the ecology of the site," Hadden says. "I combine plants that would naturally associate with each other. By understanding how plants grow on their own, it increases the chance they'll thrive without a lot of fuss."

Part three offers an encyclopedia of plant choices grouped by growth habits: mounding, mat-forming, fill-in, and minglers. Each plant's listing includes the recommended zone, place of origin, growth habits and character, behavior, and preferred soil and lighting.

I haven't mentioned the luscious photography that adorns every turn of the page, many by superstar garden photographer Saxon Holt. These images provide design inspiration as well as intimate details of scores of beautiful plants.

I'm especially grateful that Evelyn wrote this book, not me. Rather than a raging rant about the evils of these insidious Blades of the Devil (I'm minding my manners in case there are children present), the author approaches her topic with eloquence and tolerance for those who aren't yet prepared to go cold turkey. She's a skilled writer, weaving her natural storytelling ability with fact-filled, practical gardening information. This book will benefit any gardener ready to step into a new adventure.

You can learn more about Evelyn Hadden's work and find out how to schedule a talk, at her website, LessLawn.com.

[...]
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grass is not the only option, April 9, 2012
This review is from: Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives (Paperback)
There is a controversy about the role of the lawn in our culture. Some cannot imagine having a home or an estate without one, while others can hardly wait to replace theirs with alternative forms of landscaping. Here is a publication that adds realism and practicality to the ongoing dialogue.

On one side of the discussion are those who believe that a green lawn is a sign of refinement, elegance, and that it contributes to the quality of air we breathe. The other side is composed of three sub-groups: first are those who look upon lawn maintenance as a bother- some chore that squanders time, energy, natural resources, and money, and second are those who believe that the excessive nutrients and herbicides, associated with lawn care, harm our environment. The third group reminds us that it is unrealistic to grow green lawns in arid climates.

For homeowners considering alternative forms of landscaping, Ms. Hadden has prepared practical and beautiful alternatives. Some of the ideas she provides are sufficiently attractive to grace the front yards of elegant homes, while others are better suited to a back yard or woodland. Readers who might shudder at the thought of replacing the grass in their front yard with messy and chaotic meadow gardens will be relieved to learn that a meadow is but one of eleven practical, urban-friendly options.

Ms. Hadden's book is divided into three main sections. In the first, she introduces and discusses in detail the eleven no-mow options. These include groundcover gardens, shade gardens, meadows, rain gardens, patios, play areas, ponds, xerix gardens, edible gardens, stroll gardens, and "smarter" lawns.
Groundcover gardens are low living carpets of plants that never... need mowing, watering, or fertilizer. Shade gardens are soothing woodlands that filter and purify the air and obscure hard walls and floors. Meadow gardens are prairie-like landscapes defined by ornamental grasses and native plants. Rain gardens are living sponges that absorb stormwater, snowmelt, and flood waters into,,, water bodies above and below ground. Patios are places where people can comfortably spend time outdoors.

Play areas refers to natural outdoor environments that supports brain and body development in children. Here, natural spaces are filled with sound, scent, textures, color and movement. A pond garden acts as a way station for birds, encourages aquatic wildlife, and adds light and movement to the landscape. Xeric gardens are compositions for arid climates where a combination of grasses and succulents create landscapes that can surpass the drama of traditional green landscaping. Edible gardens, while not totally carefree, contain crops that stimulate our sense of taste and smell. Stroll gardens encourage exploring nature throughout the seasons; a smarter lawn, while not as elegant as a traditional one, is an alternative that requires little maintenance.
Part Two of the book is filled with practical and technical advice on how to convert a lawn into one of the above-mentioned options, and on subsequent maintenance of each option. Part Three is rich with information on the various forms of plants that - when combined together - create attractive landscaping for no-mow gardens.

This last section is divided into four classifications of plants: Mounding, Mat-forming, Fill-ins, and Minglers. Carex and Brunnera are two examples of the twenty-six suggested Mounding plants. Among the sixteen Mat-forming plants, we find Lamium and Phlox subulata. Fill-in plants that number twenty-eight include Pachysandra terminalis and Tiarella chordifolia while Callirhoe involucrate and Phlox paniculata are two of the twenty-eight suggested Minglers.

The no-grass lawn is a landscaping alternative that has arisen out of a serious and controversial dialogue. It is to the author's credit that she has graciously avoided wrapping her vision in the ideology and the dogma associated with this subject. Instead, her book makes a practical contribution to the discussion. Enhancing that achievement is 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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful No-mow yards: amazing lawn alternatives, February 11, 2013
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This review is from: Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives (Paperback)
I have a heavily wooded yard. Not much sun. I am tired of seeing the same yards all over. I love "the wild and natural " look. So I sent for this book. I loved it, very helpful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of moving to non bluegrass landscaping, March 25, 2014
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This review is from: Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives (Paperback)
Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives is an beautiful book on creating low maintenance, non blue grass lawns or garden areas. This book would serve very well as a coffee table book for any gardeners front room, as the pictures are plentiful, clear and vivid and colorful and well captioned and beautiful.

The book comes in three sections. The first section, about half the book, are descriptions and illustrations of over 50 beautiful garden spaces that once were lawns and now are filled with a wide variety of plants. The locations are spread from Minnesota to Wisconsin to California, with enough information and examples given to enable gardeners in every state to benefit. Many of the images are beautiful closeups of the plant. There are enough wide angle shots to keep most of us happy. Several of these examples were designed and planted by professionals who specialize in creating non grass areas. The second section is how to kill of your old tired bluegrass or other base plants. Mrs. Hadden emphasizes non chemical means like mulch or biodegradable fabric or newspaper and cardboard. Very generalized suggestions for planting techniques are made. These suggestions have to be very general in a book aimed nationwide. The third section is lists and descriptions of several different plants grouped by purpose.

The book is well and clearly written. It reads well, although there is much information scattered through the text. It has a index. And the organization is well done so that much information can be refound by referencing the table of contents.

Mrs. Hadden leans toward common, native plants. Her plant selection, while excellent, includes several that are garden thugs and very invasive, although that is a property desired for some locations. In the third section, the plants descriptions, she does include zone information. But the user of this book would be well advised to select the plants for their zone, habitat and range carefully. Mrs. Hadden does also state this repeatedly in the text. I do like her pushing us to use natives as they blend in better with our various niches and pollinators.

This book is an excellent overview of moving into non blue grass landscaping. A good buy.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good idea, wrong approach, July 21, 2014
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This review is from: Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives (Paperback)
The book has a laudable goal, but its recommendations rely far too heavily on introduced exotics. Using too many nonnatives isn't likely to succeed (witness the author's struggle with white clover) and runs against important currents of thought as voiced by people such as Douglas Tallamy. We need to reduce lawns and replace them with layers of mostly native grasses, perennials, shrubs, and trees.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will Change the Way You Feel About Grass Lawns, February 4, 2014
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This review is from: Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives (Paperback)
I hate my lawn. I hate mowing it, I hate feeding it, I hate watering it, and I've certainly never aerated it. But everyone has to have a lawn, right..? Not so! This eye opening tome reminds us that sprawling lawns were once the thing of kings and noblemen who wanted to display their wealth by means of cultivating huge expanses of unused land. What am I? A nobleman? No, I am a poor, first time homeowner on a postage stamp sized lot. Why wouldn't I want to make the most of my yard? This book demonstrates to the reader that there is more to gardening than tedious and unrewarding lawn care. I've wanted to incorporate flowering shrubs, vines and fruiting plants into my front yard for years, but I would be the first in my newly developed neighborhood to try something outside of the boring developer's landscaping plan. This book has given me the courage to go for it.
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Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives
Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives by Evelyn J. Hadden (Paperback - March 6, 2012)
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