What is unlawning?

A visual example for those who are wondering "what is unlawning"

Unlawning means inviting nature to fill in the spaces you don’t use. But not by letting your lawn go completely feral! Unlawning is taking a step toward rewilding. And when you unlawn you transform your grass lawn into a lush landscape that looks intentional and appealing. 

Unlawning can be as simple as letting your grass grow. Instead of mowing every week, mow it once or twice a year. Often, wildflowers will naturally pop up when you unlawn. And your grass will automatically transform into a meadow!

More advanced unlawning techniques remove grass from the lawn and introduce native plants instead. And layering vegetation gives you more of both aesthetic beauty and the natural benefits of the land. Some layers that can be added are:

  • Trees (canopy)
  • Shrubs (understory)
  • Vines
  • Herbaceous layer (chest height and below)
  • Ground cover
  • Roots and tubers
  • Fungi

We encourage landowners to unlawn small sections of their lawn at first, such as 

  • Steep hills
  • Shady places
  • Tree-lines
  • Swampy areas

But we hope homeowners will consider unlawning larger, infrequently used sections of their lawn over time.

Unlawning is a long-term process and you want a cohesive end result. But by planning to unlawn over 3 to 5 years, you have opportunities to adjust the plan. And you’ll need to adjust as you get to know nature as a part of your lawn.

A longer approach also results in better success through flexibility and adjustment. Any shrubs and trees that are added have time to adjust to the soil and grow tall enough to provide habitat for shade-happy ground cover that can be added after a year or two. 

Dive Deeper into what unlawning is.

Now you have a basic definition of unlawning. Learn how unlawning works. Or check out our Comprehensive Unlawning Guide for more advice, technical know-how, and mistakes to avoid.