Regenerative Landscaping

Alice 2020Regenerative landscaping is a radical departure from traditional suburban lawns.  Our goal is to create the conditions in which a landscape can evolve.    More than anything else, this requires us to let nature do the work.

You will hear a lot of opinions on what a garden requires.  Many of the things suggested serve to repair the damage done by other practices that interfere with nature doing her work such as tilling and using poisons.  First ask why?

The garden in the picture requires no tilling nor any composting.  We have not done a soil test.  We treat no insect as a pest and no plant as a weed.  Before we decide to do something let's try doing nothing first and see how that works.






cardboardThere still are things we can do to take a typical suburban lawn and convert it to a habitat for a healthy soil ecosystem.  These processes eliminate the need to fertilize the lawn, mow the lawn, use herbicide or insecticides on the lawn, and reduce the need to water the lawn.  We are simply taking the excess organic matter produced in that space and placing it in a way to be used by the soil ecosystem.  That can save a homeowner money and time even after paying a gardener to help them in the process.


The first step in the process is a reset.  We begin with a yard and the plants already growing in the yard.  We may prefer to replace the grass and suppress plants like bind weed and thistle.  For this purpose we use a layer of cardboard and newspaper.






The first choice for materials to feed our new ecosystem are materials generated on site.  The picture is logs from trees that died on the property but all available organic matter grown on the property can be cycled into these gardens.  The second choice is materials retrieved from the waste streams headed to the landfills.








Fill the gaps

The next step is to create a habitat for the fungi and bacteria that will feed our plants.  These organisms evolved on the forest floor and undisturbed grass lands.  They cannot exist without soil organic matter.  A typical lawn has not been allowed to build up the required carbon in the soil.   Without the required soil carbon we will not have the fungi and bacteria that consume the compounds exuded through plant roots and then, in turn, produce plant food.


Here we are in process of filling all the air space between the logs.  The fungi and bacteria we want need the wood to stay reasonably moist.






First Layer Done













The bottom layer of logs is known as hugelkultur.  (German for hill or mound culture).  If you do not have logs use the sticks from pruning your trees and bushes and those that broke off in the snow and wind.  If you do not have sticks then start with what ever organic waste you have and bury them in leaves.







Final Layer


These beds will hold water much better than a lawn and therefor will require substantially less water.  I like to use a drip system but they can be adjusted to fit into any other watering system the homeowner desires.







Fruit Tree GuildThis perennial planting is built with the same techniques as the vegetable garden shown in the other pictures.  We want to create beautiful space where people enjoy being.  We also want to create a variety of habitats.  Each homeowner can pick and choose from flowers and shrubs, medicinal or culinary herbs, pollinator gardens, and/or vegetable gardens.  All of these plants benefit from participating in a healthy soil ecosystem and a variety of plants provides spaces for all the insects and birds that will balance the ecosystem of the property.


Contact Us

  • David Braden IV, Executive Director, Living Systems Institute
  • (303) 549-9787

Visit Our Partners

Other Ways to Support


Upcoming Events

Upcoming events may be found on the 

Greater Denver Urban
Homesteading Meetup Group

Newsletter Signup

* indicates required