Chances are, the last thing you are thinking about right now is mowing the grass. And in truth, there is no reason you should be. Your lawn should be resting comfortably these days, dormant. However, now actually is a good time to think about ditching that lawn, or at least a part of it.

Last summer we went electric — leaf blower and mower too. Both have proved to be much quieter than the gas-powered versions, and we can get our entire small lawn done in one charge for the mower. No one is missing the noise and inconvenience of gas-powered lawn equipment. And that fact is one reason why I am bringing up this option.

It’s almost Christmas, and if you happen to be positively stumped for the gift for your favorite gardener or “grounds keeper,” something electric would be a welcome choice for a multitude of reasons, as would seed selections to create their own (or your own) wildflower meadow come spring.

When you examine the real costs of maintaining a lawn, it becomes obvious that a lawn is a bit of an extravagance. It is estimated that here in this country, in a year’s time lawns gulp up three trillion gallons of water, 59 millions pounds of pesticides (as well as pounds of herbicides and fertilizers) and keeping those lawns cut and edged slurps up three billions gallons of gasoline.

It is true that lawns can help to “clean the air, trap carbon dioxide, reduce erosion from stormwater runoff, improve soil, decrease noise pollution, and reduce temperatures,” according to one online source. But at the same time lawns are well-known gluttons requiring lots of chemicals and care. They offer little for nature to thrive. As the use of native plants in landscapes grows, people are taking a critical look at the role their lawn is playing.

“Lawns may have originated as grassed enclosures within early medieval settlements used for communal grazing of livestock, as distinct from fields reserved for agriculture. The word “laune” is first attested in 1540 from the Old French “lande,” “heath, moor, barren land; clearing,” says another online source. “Closely shorn grass lawns first emerged in 17th-century England at the homes of large, wealthy landowners. While sheep were still grazed on many such parklands, landowners increasingly depended on human labor to tend the grass closest to their homes,” according to yet another online source.

Today’s lawns are a far cry from their early origins, and perhaps now is the time to re-examine the reasons to maintain one. Certainly, having space for children and pets to play and conduct social activities makes lawns useful. But when those uses do not exist or have changed, we might ask if it is really necessary to keep and maintain all that lawn.

The fact is that our “lawn” of clover and assorted other weeds gets smaller and smaller every year as I stealthily increase food and ornamental beds bit by bit. Turns out my sneaky cultivation expansion is part of a trend as homeowners reduce turf for food crops and meadows too.

In addition to their beauty, here are some other benefits of a meadow:

  • They support pollinators.
  • They don’t require harmful chemicals.
  • They don’t require mowing.
  • There are no strict rules for how they should be done

In fact, meadow development is one of the hottest garden trends. Across the nation, gardeners are removing lawns and planting drought-tolerant, pollinator-friendly and native plants. As this appreciation for lawn alternatives continues to grow, meadow gardens are coming into focus. In other words, you don’t have to tear out the entire lawn in order to establish a nature-friendly meadow. And for those who need to keep their turf, going electric is a good way to reduce the environmental impact of its maintenance.