How does unlawning work?

Turning manicured land into an oasis of nature can seem like a ton of work.

How you unlawn doesn't have to match the master gardeners. Although nice borders and signage is a plus!
The Davidson County Master Gardener’s Demonstration Garden in Nashville, Tennessee

You don’t want your house to look abandoned, you want it to look stunning. And you may not want to risk losing the consistency of a grass lawn for the uncertainty of an ecosystem. So how do you unlawn? Don’t fret. The whole process is transparent and simple! And you don’t need to be a master gardener to create a beautiful space.

Planning how to unlawn

We’ll help you get to know you and your property. Together, we can figure out how to unlawn without sacrificing your vision and goals. And we can help you better understand the characteristics of your land. 

Plans have flexible horizons and milestones. And unlawning with our help will leave your property looking more beautiful with every step! Consider starting from a template from Wild Ones.

Rework or expand your plan anytime. Feel like your plan is too ambitious? Maybe the aesthetic is slightly off? Let’s fix it and move forward.

How to unlawn: different approaches

How to unlawn is different for each lawn and each homeowner. The whole process is up to you. We can help you choose which type of unlawning is best for your goals. We’ll help you with questions like:

  • Does the lawn need to be tilled?
  • Are invasive plants a concern?
  • Is soil erosion possible? 
  • How long will it take? 
  • How much will it cost?

When you know how to unlawn, nothing can hold you back! We can even help you find help with labor.

Ecosystem establishment

To give your ecosystem a quick boost, you may need to add native plants. How you go about unlawning will determine how quickly nature moves in. We can help you source and install (if you’re nearby) plants that are perennial and self-seeding. But more importantly, suited to the conditions in your yard! Your ecosystem should be stable and hands-off. Consider plants that are:

  • Native, rather than ornamental
  • Fruiting and edible
  • Medicinal and traditional
  • Good for wildlife and pollinators

Plants grow in layers, and they sometimes take a few years to reach maturity. For long-term success, layers are critical to how you unlawn. Your ecosystem can be vertically tiered as:

  • Trees
  • Shrubs
  • Herbaceous plants
  • Ground Cover
  • Roots and tubers
  • Vines

Don’t forget about what sustains all these plants: your dirt. We can help you understand soil science. And when you unlawn with your soil, bacteria, and fungi in mind, your ecosystem will take off!

Ecosystem development and maintenance

  • Annual or semi-annual mowing
  • Weeding & invasive plant removal
  • Adding soil or mulch
  • Composting

We don’t recommend deadheading flowers or clipping dead stalks in winter. These provide invaluable resources and habitat for native pollinators and insects. If you’re not sure how unlawning will impact your yard work schedule, check out The Unlawning Guide to learn more.

As your trees and shrubs reach maturity and your soil grows deeper and healthier, you may find new opportunities to introduce additional species. But now that you know how unlawning works, you can anticipate these changes. And if you need to make adjustments, you’ll be learning more and more about your property and your plants.

Want some help getting started? Contact our experts below.

Are you more of a do-it-yourselfer?

Anyone can complete an unlawning project with the right knowledge. We don’t keep any secrets about the process. Check out The Unlawning Guide to learn how to plan and execute your project.