Book review

Lawns into Meadows: Growing a Regenerative Landscape by Owen Wormser

Owen Wormser is a landscape designer who specializes in regenerative landscaping based on his study of horticulture, permaculture, organic agriculture and ecology.  In his recent book Lawns into Meadows published in June 2020 he provides a practical guide for homeowners to convert their lawns into  environments that enrich soil health, increase biodiversity and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

He explains why lawns are problematic from an environmental standpoint given the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides used to maintain them.  He discusses how using chemicals degrades soil, kills beneficial soil life, adds the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide to the atmosphere and pollutes our water systems.  He links chemical use to the decline of pollinators and to human disease. Finally Wormser discusses the continual need to mow lawns and how gas powered lawnmowers contribute to air pollution

Wormser reviews the carbon cycle—the process by which plants use photosynthesis to return oxygen to the atmosphere and store carbon which they convert to sugars and starches to feed themselves.

He provides a step by step guide to converting lawn into meadow.  The steps include:

  1. Sizing up or assessing your site including the type of soil, sunlight and how wet or dry it is.
  2. Designing the meadow including examples
  3. Meadow plants including detailed plant profiles of plants native to the American northeast and most of which are also native to southwestern Ontario.  He recommends doing mixed plantings of both grasses and flowers.
  4. Prep work: How to remove lawn and prepare for planting.
  5. A planting guide
  6. How to maintain the meadow

In the final chapter Wormser discusses the challenges that homeowners may face from neighbours who may complain that the meadow appears weedy or messy.  He offers suggestions for how to introduce your meadow to your neighbours and strategies to ease your meadow into place.

Submitted by Carolyn Schmidt