Sitting on a lawnmower is easy, concedes Dr. Doug Tallamy, author of several books on natural landscaping. Converting a lawn to a natural yard, on the other hand, is a major project.
Homeowners with the means to do so can accomplish much of the conversion in a short amount of time by hiring a professional landscaper. Others may choose to do the work themselves, gradually replacing turf with native plantings. Either way, the new plants will take time to become established and look like what the homeowner had in mind.
During that time, the homeowner will continue to work by clearing invasives that try to move in, replacing plants that fail with others of the same or a different species, watering plants to help them get established, and so on. This is a very different kind of work from regular mowing, so it’s hard to say whether the overall effort is more or less.
Once natural plantings are established, the work involved in maintaining them decreases. They become better at resisting invasives and typically need very little water. The yard develops into a largely self-sustaining ecosystem.
In the long run, natural yards can be less work!