Showing posts with label lawn reform. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lawn reform. Show all posts

Monday, August 22, 2011

Garden Designers Roundtable: Lawn Alternatives

Welcome to the Garden Designers Roundtable! This month's subject, "Lawn Alternatives" is near and dear to my heart, as my regular readers know! And a special welcome to our guests from the Lawn Reform Coalition, who are joining us today.

As usual, I'm being quite literal with this topic; drawing heavily from gardens I've designed for myself and others. What ARE the alternatives to a lawn? Got a minute? I'll toss you a few! Each example is a bit of garden that used to be (or could have been) a lawn.

Instead of a lawn, you could have a meditation garden with bamboo and a bubbling water feature. We're not against GRASSES you know!

You could have a vibrant, colorful front garden that the whole neighborhood adores. It's private without a fence, and requires only monthly maintenance to look wonderful.

How about a paved sitting area that nestles right up to the garden? I smile to think how many hours I spent in those chairs, talking into the night with friends and family. Not to mention tiptoeing out to catch the sunrise with my first cup of tea.

If your lawn is on an awkward slope, you could turn it into a terrace for dining or sitting by the fire. Surrounded by garden on all sides, this adds valuable living space, especially on a small lot.

This creekside clearing could have been a patch of lawn, but how much nicer to have a dining room with a huge plank table? No need to worry about too much shade, damage from furniture (or to it).

Instead of a front lawn you could add layers of interest with ornamental AND edible plants (yes, those are artichoke leaves!)

Or a kitchen garden in a sunny spot, with herbs, espaliered fruit trees, and flowers. Raised beds make raising healthy veggies easy when space is limited.

A healthy lawn needs sun. Without a lawn, you can turn a hot, dry corner of your garden into a shady oasis. Think about it! On a hot day I'd like to be sitting in this corner, not mowing it!

On the other hand, make use of the sunny spots you can reclaim: plant a rose garden!

Or a sea of thyme...

Or a sturdy border of hardy shrubs and grasses as a sidewalk buffer. Adding elements like a low wall and a curved fence (taking full advantage of a slight slope) breaks up larger expanses and gives structure and purpose to plantings.

The view from my old front porch. Before it was lawn down to the sidewalk. After it was a private garden centered around this water feature. I never missed the lawn for one moment.

So I guess what I'm saying is that your alternative to a lawn To garden, to live, to dream, to tuck your latest nursery treasures. You aren't limited to a 3' bed against the fence any more. Good design, thoughtfully applied, will give you so much more to work with. Where will you start? Which patch of scruffy green in your life is getting the stink-eye? What could go, right now? That's where you begin.

Thanks for visiting! But don't stop here, oh no. There is sooo much more, as the other Knights and Ladies of the Roundtable AND the Rock Stars from Lawn Reform Coalition have a few things to say as well:

Lawn Reform Coalition
Susan Harris : Garden Rant : Takoma Park, MD
Susan Harris : Gardener Susan’s Blog : Takoma Park, MD
Billy Goodnick : Cool Green Gardens : Santa Barbara, CA
Evelyn Hadden : Lawn Reform.Org : Saint Paul, MN
Saxon Holt : Gardening Gone Wild : Novato, CA
Shirley Bovshow : Eden Makers : Los Angeles, CA
Ginny Stibolt : Florida Native Plant Society : Green Cove Springs, FL

Garden Designers Roundtable
Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA
Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT
Rochelle Greayer : Studio G : Boston, MA
Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In The Garden : Los Altos, CA
Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber : Bristol, UK
Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO
Ivette Soler : The Germinatrix : Los Angeles, CA
Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA
Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN
Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT
Tara Dillard : Vanishing Threshold: Garden, Life, Home : Atlanta, GA

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Used To Have a Lawn, Now I Have a Sanctuary

I am honored to write the first post for Lawn Reform's 'I used to have
a lawn' blog contest. I'm glad to share my blissfully lawn-free garden existence, and hope you will too!
When I was designing my back yard, someone suggested I put a lawn here. Insisted, in fact. Since he was my landlord and paying for it, I didn't have much choice. So I simply stalled the project until the house was mine, then did exactly as I pleased.

No doubt you are getting thoroughly tired of the Red Umbrella, but we'll start there to orient you for the rest of the tour.

The view from under the Red Umbrella. I have spent a lot of time contemplating my fountain this summer. It uses MUCH less water
than the equivalent in sprinkler gazing.

At the center of things is a simple paver patio. There used to be lawn here too, before my time. I would much rather go sit out in the middle of the yard on a starry, starry night without getting my socks wet, wouldn't you?

Around the patio are sturdy evergreen shrubs accented by grasses.
My cats find this kind of garden MUCH more entertaining than turf (which gets their feet wet too!)

In the sunny corner of the garden I have vegetable boxes where I grow herbs, apples, tomatoes, pomegranates, peppers and wildflowers in a rather casual way. I guess I could make some nice compost from a lawn...but I simply want more.

There are lots of dry little corners, perfect for succulents. This is the kind of edging I like.

Just because it's a paved, doesn't mean it isn't a garden. Buddha
sits on the step next to my office door. The succulents do get watered...occasionally.

Shade-loving plants in glazed pots cluster in a sheltered corner of the patio. They enjoy regular water, but almost never need mowing.

Outdoor space can be used in so many ways, it seems a shame to dedicate so much of it to lawn out of...habit. Especially in a dry summer climate like California. But things are changing, and my clients are losing their lawns by the yard...and gaining so much more.

I toast this trend with satisfaction (and dry feet) from my sanctuary under the Red Umbrella.

Congratulations on your launch, Lawn Reform, long may you wave!

To participate in the Lawn Reform Blog Contest, simply write a post on your blog that completes the statement: “I used to have a lawn, but now I have…”
  • You can answer in words, pictures or both.
  • Links to previous posts are welcome.
  • If you but dream of a future with less lawn, feel free to complete “I still have a lawn, but one day I’ll have a…”
  • Once you have posted, go visit Susan Morrison at Blue Planet Gardening and sign it up using the Mr. Linky widget.
  • On September 30, Susan will post the randomly drawn winners and share highlights.
  • Don’t forget to visit the Lawn Reform website and download a badge for your blog!