create natural area

My husband and I would like to make part of our back yard a natural area, where mowing grass and pulling any weeds is not needed, how would we go about doing this? (Without spending too much time or money on it.) We want the ground to be covered with leaves not straw.
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

This is a terrific idea. It will reduce your mowing and the natural area will become habitat for wildlife. The best choice is to start off by eliminating the grass that’s growing there. You can smother the grass with newspaper, till repeatedly until weed seeds stop germinating, or kill the turf with glyphosate (Roundup). Next, sow seeds or plant plugs of native plants. (This is best done in spring or fall.) Water with sprinklers regularly during the first season. As the new meadow/prairie/native area grows, weed regularly. Targeting individual weeds with Roundup is better than pulling weeds because pulling can disturb or dislodge the new young plants. Finally, mow the area once or twice a year. The simpler option is to just stop mowing the area and then work with what comes up, although your results might be disappointing. You'll probably want to do a little selection--pulling or spraying Roundup on some of the unwanted plants and scattering seed of the more desirable ones to promote them.

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