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A healing garden with flowers and a walkway

Keep off the Grass

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Explore In the Garden Is a Mirror; in the Mirror Is The Beloved, Matthew David’s guest stories for Fruit-Powered Magazine.

If you live in a suburban American home, then chances are there is not a spring or summer day that goes by without the incessant boisterous whirring of weed whackers, leaf blowers and lawn mowers. Out on the road, every 10th vehicle that you encounter will be a lawn-care service hauling a truckload of loud and dirty machinery.

Grass-filled lawns have somehow become the convention of suburban society. Everyone wants one yet, when we have one, we spend an inordinate amount of time and resources constantly battling it. We buy lawnmowers, weed eaters and gas to run them. We pay lawn services and install lawn irrigation.

A green push lawnmower cuts grass

The resources required for “lawn maintenance” not only drain our wallet but also contribute a great deal of air pollution and ground contamination; and for what? What is our lawn of grass giving us besides a subtle aesthetic satisfaction that has largely been programmed into us by way of societal or cultural convention?

Grass certainly has its place in nature and provides essential benefits. Grass is a natural tool for the prevention of erosion. By quickly developing a large matted root system across the soil, it holds the top layer of dirt in place and does not allow it to be swept away by saturating rains. Grass also provides a nutritious food source for grazing animals. For these reasons alone, it makes a great deal of sense for grass to grow in particular regions where it can provide food and ground stability.

However, we humans do not eat grass, and we generally don’t allow grazing animals into our properties either. Furthermore, when we do attempt to grow what we do eat, grass becomes a great detriment to our endeavor. As a gardener, whether you are growing vegetables or flowers, you will experience the highly invasive nature of grass and its impact on our cultivated beds.

Closeup of blades of dew-covered grass

If grass is infringing on your beautiful edible landscape, then why have it in your yard at all? Why not turn your entire yard into a beautiful garden paradise? You can select the edible and ornamental plants that you desire and use them to design a boundless garden that will still provide the few benefits of grass without the hassle.

When you design and build a healing garden in your yard, don’t just confine it to a “reasonable garden space,” but turn your creative green thumb loose on the entire yard. Why just create a healing garden in your yard when you can build a great big majestic healing garden and then simply live amongst it? It may sound strange, impractical or perhaps too good to be true, but it is actually quite simple and ultimately quite intuitive.

When is the last time you went into a pristine beautiful green forest and saw grass? You probably saw strong regal hardwood trees, lush climbing vines, full shrubs with aromatic flowers and shapely exotic ground-cover. Wouldn’t you rather live in that kind of jungle or forest paradise rather than in a giant grass patch like a horse?

Vibrantly colored peaches grow from a tree
Imagine turning your lawn into a fruit paradise. Here, vibrantly colored peaches await picking and enjoyment.

A great starting layer of any forest garden is trees. By choosing a variety of trees that all provide something very special and also very useful, you can initiate your dreamy garden paradise while ultimately saving money and creating personal abundance. How about a few tall, robust fruit trees that will provide a copious haul of fresh delicious sweet fruit all season? You don’t have to limit your gardening to producing food either. By cultivating a larger canopy of hardwood trees, you can grow your own lumber for carpentry projects around the yard and house. Trees have an endless range of peripheral benefits. Large trees also provide shade for people and other plants while fruiting trees also present gorgeous flowers as they begin to produce their food.

As you begin to fill out your space with smaller trees and shrubs, you can bring even more beautiful utility to your healing garden. Smaller fruit trees and vines are great additions. You should also consider the power of aromatherapy and apply choices such as gardenia and stammedenia jasmine, whose striking fragrant flowers create an olfactory joy that will cure what ails you.

What forest is complete without beautiful climbing vines? Imagine beautiful and delicious passion fruit vines crawling on your trees or loofah that can be dried and used for bathing. Who could overlook the whimsical beauty and mystical fragrance of the confederate jasmine climbing vine, or perhaps an exotic trumpet flower?

Trumpet flowers nestled among lush green leaves
Pink trumpet flowers are nestled among lush green leaves.

By the time you get to the forest floor, you’ll be absolutely swimming in wonder-filled gardening options. With dazzling bromeliad groundcover plants and crawling flowering plants abounding in our amazing climate, there is little limit on the beauty you can create here on the floor.

The opportunity for beautiful abundance goes on and on, but the best part is that when your healing garden is well-structured in the order of nature it can almost take care of itself. While it may seem that with so much more life and variety it would be difficult to maintain, it is actually easier than conventional lawns and landscapes. Instead of paying lawn service to bring heavy, loud, polluting machinery to hack and cleave your lawn, all you need to do is spend an few hours a week strolling through your gorgeous homegrown paradise with, at most, a pair of clippers. Most of your “maintenance” will be joyfully picking the sweet, fresh abundant fruits of your garden’s labor.

When you decide to transition from the conventional lawnscape system to a healing garden model, every benefit is exponential. Not only do you improve by ceasing the detriments of the old way, but the new way brings massive improvements of its own. When you stop wasting money on maintenance and resources that are required to maintain the old paradigm, the new paradigm saves you even more money by providing nourishment, therapy and material resources.

A large, richly colorful healing garden

When you put an end to the petro-based pollution of the convention by removing the necessity of machines and equipment you are, of course, saving money and preventing further harm to the planet. Then, when you bring in this new nature-based paradigm of the healing garden, you are making a massive positive contribution to the ecosystem by providing habitats for microbiological systems whose presence brings balance and nourishment to the ecological whole. The crippling systemic issues affecting the whole of our planet can be ceased when we eliminate the wrongful practices of our conventional society, but they can be rapidly reversed when we adopt new ways that are in alignment with the abundant peaceful flow of nature; this is that new way.

Of course, even if you mostly agree with what has been suggested here, you may be thinking, “But I really do like having a bit of grass to sit in or lay in sometimes.” Well that’s just fine, and we have a solution for you. Simply select a small space within your lush garden paradise to plant a “garden bed” of nice soft grass. It’s a basic inversion of the current system that is far more natural and ecologically beneficial. Just be sure to keep it trimmed so that the stalks don’t go to seed and throw themselves all over the place to invade other forming plant systems.

A great logical rule for the size of a grassy area involves an old-style manual powered rotary mower. You know, the kind that you have make several passes for a decent cut. If you are using one of these, your lawn should only be as large as you can tolerate doing the labor of cutting it, because if you do have grass, that is the only responsible way to go. Plus, it is a tremendous workout; yet another way to save you money as you toss away that membership to the gym!

Matthew David in the Dresher Arcade hallway at Raw Experience 3 in August 2013

Check out Matthew David’s transformation story!

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2 thoughts on “Keep off the Grass”

  1. I understand this concept and it sounds very beautiful, but what about the expense of the trees and plants to add to your initial healing garden? You could plant by seed, but trees and shrubs could take years to grow. What to do in the meantime?

  2. Trees, shrubs and flowers are not very expensive if you know where to look. What else would you spend your money on? What better investment then restoring the soil so we can continue to enjoy this wonderful green and blue planet as a species. It may require more work but evaluate your priorities and see what is more important than the restoration of the eco-system on which you fully rely. Find neighbors with extra plants, learn to clone trees with cuttings and why not grow from seed? Don’t just think about yourself, think about the future and the whole of this great organism.
    “A society becomes truly great when men and women plant trees whose shade they’ll never sit in.”

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