SHTF and your yard

Front yard garden

For many this may be a strange topic, but one of the things that people prepare for is a long lasting SHTF event. Some are envisioning a TEOTWAWKI event, but it could be a severe economic collapse that makes fuel a scarce commodity, and fuel will be used in a car long before a lawn mower. The topic is dealing with the loss of ability to mow your yard after such a situation. Many may be laughing at this point because I’m really trying to talk about yard maintenance after a major SHTF. Well I am, and here’s why.

If you were to let your yard go after a major event and you plan to stay in your house you will have an increased risk of many things. Letting your yard grow even 6 inches increases your risk of attracting mice and rats, as well as snakes. While some of the mice and rats will get eaten by the snakes, the snakes will not get them all and that means you are highly likely to be fighting to keep them out of your food storage. You will also be attracting more bugs, like ticks that can lead to other issues for you.

One of the major problems with letting your yard grow out of control is the risk of fire. When the grass is tall and the season is dry even a small spark (remember that fire will be the primary means for lighting, cooking, and warmth) can quickly turn your yard into a huge fire field. Grass fires spread quickly and if you have a wood sided house in dry conditions you may not have one much longer.

Many may not know this, but there is a reason that farmers always had their yards closest to their homes mowed as low as possible. Short grass is less likely to burn and if it does catch fire, the fire doesn’t move near as fast as a tall grass fire. One of the other reasons for the short yard is to expose mice, rats, and snakes. There are many predator birds that will help you keep the pests away if they can see them. This also makes it easier for you to see the vermin, so they can be dealt with.

You don’t want to be fighting the vermin for your hard-earned food and if they were to get into your house they can also carry many diseases. What is to be done is the question. Well without electricity or fuel your choices are limited; what follows are some ideas for dealing with your yard post SHTF before it gets out of control.

  • Garden – One option is to turn it into a garden…..the entire yard. If things have gotten so bad that you can’t mow your yard you probably are not going to the grocery store. Since you will need food you can turn as much as possible into a garden. What remains can be dealt with using manual yard trimmers.
  • Controlled Burn – Unlike a random fire, a controlled burn can be used to burn away the grass. This needs to be done when the grass is dry and the wind is very calm. Have buckets of water standing by just in case. Be very watchful or tamp it out when it gets close to the house. While this is risky it is a possibility.
  • Guinea Hens – While this bird is known for being noisy, they are good for helping to keep lawns in some order. As part of their diets that need greens and grass can be one of them. I have not had personal experience with them, so I can’t attest to how well they would do, and you might need to develop a way to steer them where you want them to trim, but they are natural grass trimmers.
  • Scythe – Many may not know what this is so feel free to google it. This is an old farm implement used for cutting grasses for harvesting. I have used one of these and with some practice you can get a good, with a mostly even cut.
  • Reel Mower – A Reel mower is definitely the easiest way to handle your yard. They are readily available at any hardware store and require no electricity or fuel. Many people use them now for energy conservation, low carbon emissions, and they give a yard a certain look that some people like.
  • Stone – You could stone or gravel in a yard similar to the rock gardens in arid climates. You will still need to trim in the cracks, but that can be done with clippers.
  • Kill it all – One of the methods used a long time ago, was to not have grass. People had so little space and spent so much time outside walking in their yards that grass didn’t grow in the yard. The earth became hard packed so much that people would sweep it of debris. In dry conditions, they would sprinkle water on it to keep the dust down.
  • Livestock – If you have livestock like sheep or goats, they would eat the grass for you. So instead of keeping the animals in the pasture area move them into your yard for some grass control.


Stay active, pay attention, and get prepared.

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