Rethinking the Front Yard

Front Yard – May 2012

Many people spend an enormous amount of time and money to keep grass alive and green to impress their neighbors. I happen to hate mowing and think lawns are a waste of space so I decided to replace the vast majority of the lawn with something that would make me happy, more plants.

When I moved into my house almost five years ago the front yard looked a lot different. It still had more plants than many front yards, but they were confined to along the driveway and walk. There were two trees, one maple and one cherry tree. Unfortunately, following the drought our first year here the cherry tree died. I chose to look at the positive side of the tree’s untimely death and focused on the sunny spot opened up in the wake of its death. Little by little, year by year, I replaced grass with flowering and fruiting plans.

Front Yard – May 2016

Four years later and my front yard is my oasis and a continual work in progress. I try things out, some work and some don’t, and I try to cultivate a healthy mini-ecosystem of plants and animals. I don’t use pesticides and the like because I don’t want to kill the beneficial creatures and want to keep our land healthy. I am pleased that there is a growing movement to replace lawns with edibles and flowers for the pollinators. Some yards are more purposeful and manicured, mine tends to be more haphazard and “cottage-y” following my current whims. My style may not be welcome in many neighborhoods with homeowner’s associations and strict rules, but hopefully that will change in the future. In fact, many drought prone areas are encouraging homeowners to replace lawns with drought tolerant landscaping. I think this is a step in the right direction as we try to be better stewards of Mother Earth.

Garden Club Activity

Several of my neighbors have begun taking out the grass between their sidewalks and the road and replacing this area with flowers for pollinators. For the most part they use native flowers that require little maintenance. This is an easy foray into rethinking your front yard for more beneficial purposes.

Your garden club could try this out with one person’s yard and document the difference with photographs. Get together and plot out this small space with attention to continual flowering spring-late summer. Share seeds, plan the space and planting times and get started!

Once you document this initial plot’s progress including the maintenance required, beneficial visitors (bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, etc.), cost, etc. you can take this documentation to a local school or business and offer to do something similar for them (adopt a spot for example). Alternately, you can try to convince as many neighbors as possible to try this out (maybe give them directions and a starter pack of seeds and offer to prep the area) to try to start a pollinator pathway, a project underway in Seattle.

Recommended pairing: Stone Go To IPA, refreshing, hoppy, and let’s you get the work done without getting too tipsy.

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