Removing the Grass


I have a small lawn which will likely be torn apart, and/or heavily damaged by a porch renovation which is overdue.
I’d probably replace the lawn after the reno, but currently have a small lawn which is less than 17 feet square, attached to a neighbours smaller lawn which has a small tree which absorbs a great deal of water. The reno might not take place until the end of summer.
Among some reasons for replacing the lawn are to reduce the maintenance as I age in place(weeding, my independence, watering,cutting,negotiating timing, meeting others expectations of lawncare), being allergic to grass, reducing the need to replace the lawn after the possible reno due to damage, allowing the direction of the porch replacement gutters to flow onto the newer front yard design less visibly, relieving my neighbour of their generous help and my guilt, and finally allowing changes by shuffling the elements(vases, etc) .
What I wonder about design is what makes the elements of design portable? By portability I mean a design which allows the features of the front yard to be removed to the back during a reno, and then returned to the front after the reno.

I would imagine if the lawn is mulched, then elements such as moveable elements(vases with minimally maintained items which would be transported to the back during the reno) would allow a reno to take place without concerns.
Thank you.


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

As someone who cares about the environment, I fully support your decision to replace the grass with something easier to maintain and healthier for the planet.

Are you asking what you can do now to change the design before starting the porch repairs? If so, you may be making double work for yourself. While garden containers can be lovely, lugging them back and forth could be a big task. They are not low-maintenance options, as they need to be replaced seasonally.

If you are frustrated with  the grass and you decide to remove it this spring, you could just cover the soil with mulch. It’s a small area and you’re preparing for a renovation. Natural mulch is always an excellent idea, as it helps the soil stay cool and retain moisture.

The best option is to hire the services of a professional landscape designer, even if it is just for a couple hours of consultation. Landscape Ontario is a good place to look for help.

Additionally, you can peruse books and magazines to come up with the best small garden design. Some simple solutions you might discover: making a dwarf tree (for example, Magnolia) or a couple of shrubs (for example, Hydrangea) the focal point of the garden.

Some excellent books from my own library that I can recommend are:

  • The Intimate Garden, Brian D. Coleman, Gibbs Smith, 2008. ISBN: 1 58685 856 4
  • Small Garden, John Brookes, Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2006. ISBN: 0 7566 1723 5
  • (Canadian Gardening) City Gardens, Liz Primeau, McArthur & Company, 2004. ISBN: 1 55278 407 X
  • The New City Gardener, Judith Adam, Firefly Books, 1999. ISBN: 1 55209 313
  • Front Yard Gardens, Liz Primeau, Firefly Books, 2003. ISBN: 1 55297 710 2
  • Front Yard Idea Book, Jeni Webber, The Taunton Press, 2002. ISBN: 1 56158 519 X
  • Reinvent Your Garden, Sunset Books, 2003. ISBN: 0 376 03611 7
  • Really Small Gardens, Jill Billington, Whitecap Books, 2002. ISBN: 1 55285 307 1

I wish you the best with your makeover.