Thursday, February 21, 2013

Is the Grass Always Greener...? (A Giveaway!)

For years, we've bemoaned our lawn. It's patchy, weedy, and downright bare under the trees. With our very shady yard, we're in a constant battle to make it look decent. Little by little, we've reduce the lawn and increased the garden beds...mostly because of someone's plant obsession and the need to find homes for those babies. Still, the remaining lawn looks rather sad. And because I'm an organic gardener and Peter is an overall environmentally-minded kind of guy, we avoid the products that promise a lush greenscape. 

But we're in the minority. With more than 40.5 million acres of lawn across America and more than $30 billion spent on lawn care, Americans obsess about the perfect lawn. And honestly? With young kids, we'll keep some lawn for awhile. After all, we have a soccer player in the house that needs to practice his moves. However, with concerns for our water supply (more than 7 billion gallons used daily for residential irrigation) and our health (more than 30,000 tons of synthetic pesticides used annually, most of which include possible carcinogens and all of which pose a threat to the environment), a lawn-free society sounds Utopian. 

Less toxins? Reduced water consumption? A Saturday spent in the hammock instead of behind a gas-powered mower? (800 million gallons of gas is burned annually mowing lawns--and 17 million gallons are SPILLED refilling gas mowers. To compare, the Exxon Valdez spilled 10.8 million gallons, for goodness sake.)

Sign me up! (Statistics are from here.)

And with drought conditions affecting much of the country last year, it's time we all examine our gardening and lawn care practices.

Lucky for us, we have the perfect resource:




Author Pam Penick's visually stunning book isn't just another gardening reference dust collector. Instead, she provides practical, real-world ideas to replace lawns with natural, environmentally friendly alternative designs. 

From initial considerations, such a contending with city codes and Homeowners' Associations to the aesthetics of selecting low maintenance plants that will wow the neighbors, Pam offers realistic alternatives to the traditional front lawn. Personally, I love her ideas for examining the ways a homeowner can create garden rooms through hardscaping, designing beautiful, practical spaces to enjoy the outdoors. Lounging in a lovely garden room is much more enticing than mowing a lawn, especially in July...in South Carolina.

Once you've decided to eliminate or minimize your lawn, Lawn Gone! covers various methods for grass removal. Pam includes the pros and cons of each method and reviews the tools required for the job, as well as instructions for removal.

As any good gardener know, you'll need to prepare the beds for planting once the lawn is removed. Chapter 10 reminds us that in our excitement to plant our new landscape, we need to go back to the basics of evaluating the soil. Sigh. I know, we'll be much happier if we take the time to prepare our beds correctly, but darn--I want to go buy plants! ;-)

(Follow Pam's advice. Ignore my impatience.) 

My absolute favorite part of Lawn Gone! is the regional plant recommendations. Divided into 11 regions, Pam includes plants appropriate for dry, sunny Arizona, as well as groundcovers for Maine. I like authors who take the guesswork out of a project.

Of course, I'd love to be one of those rebellious types who dig up the entire front lawn to plant a vegetable garden. Since we already push the envelope with our backyard chickens and greenhouses, I'm trying to maintain the neighborly peace. (Guess what? Pam even covers "Working with Skeptical Neighbors"!  Brilliant!)

I can feel Peter getting nervous, worrying that I have a new project for us...(Don't worry, honey...not yet. But maybe soon...)

Instead, we're having a giveaway!

To win a copy of Lawn Gone!, leave a comment below telling me how often you water your lawn in the summer. Don't be embarrassed, you're among friends.  Enter by midnight EST February 28, 2013. Of course, if you'd like to follow the blog or "Like" Garden Delights on Facebook, I'd be eternally grateful--but it won't affect your chance to win. It will just make me happy. I'll randomly select a winner and announce it on March 1. (The randomness is me, writing your names on paper and letting Mikey pull the winning entry from a hat. We're very scientific.) Please make sure I can contact you if you win--an e-mail address is always helpful!

Good luck to all! 

XO ~

Julie


35 comments:

  1. Hi Julie....a you know, i live in the same hot climate that you do. During the summer months, we water our lawn and beds almost daily (our sprinkler system does not work and is to expensive to replace)!
    Beth S.

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  2. I live in Pam's hometown and have very little lawn left in the front yard. We are on water restrictions and can irrigate once a week. I do supplemental hand watering in the beds and in the back when, as Pam says, the Death Star, beats down! me.krautter@gmail.com

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  3. We live in a mobile home park in south TX. The city charges commercial rates for water, so nobody here waters the lawn. Even a small garden costs a fortune to water. Lawns are such a waste of resources. I'd love a copy . squirtbug158@yahoo.com

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  4. I do not water the lawn. Our lawn is all gone after several years of extended drought and extremely hot summers along with zero outdoor watering allowed summer before last. Now I really want to landscape with more suitable plants. I'd love to win Pam's book!

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  5. Our lawn IS gone, so no summer watering of grass...just a drip system on 4 huge raised beds we built from a $25.00 Craigslist haul of redwood, formerly a fancy climbing structure for kids. Even with the lawn gone, I still follow Pam's blog and am looking forward to getting my hands on her book. She is constantly informative and inspirational. Llmcg@Verizon.net

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  6. I recently heard Pam speak at a local venue. I'm very interested in this concept from the perspective of educating homeowners. I don't have a lawn that I water, but I do have a vegetable and ornamental garden that requires irrigation. I water the vegetables weekly with drip irrigation depending on rainfall and the season. The ornamental beds get watered weekly in the summer when needed.

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  7. I never ever water my lawn. It goes dormant since it is fescue, but that's okay by me.

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  8. I live in the tropics and never actually water the little bit of lawn we have, but it seems to survive well enough with runoff from the beds, which I water deeply one or twice a week if there has been no rain.. I would love to get rid of the last lot of lawn. those figures are amazing.... By the way I live in Australia - dont know if this giveaway is offered worldwide.

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    1. You know, I thought about keeping the contest within the U.S., because I have to when I give away plants...but what the heck! Let's be international! :-) Good luck to all! (If there are any international rules against giving away books, please don't tell me, and I'll plead innocence.)

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  9. I do not water my lawn, only my gardens when they need it. It rains a lot where I live (pacific northwest, in western Washington). I am adding more gardens and fruit trees to our bare landscape. Eventually I will also be putting in flower gardens, herbs, and medicinal type plants.

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  10. I usually water the lawn when it is near dead/drought conditions. I should be able to do more for it with my homemade water collection tower. I have the tank and the plans, now I just need winter to leave! (but not before the snow gives the grass a good soaking.)

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  11. We never water our lawn....garden yes, lawn no. We like to plant a lot of native wildflowers in our yard. Very hardy and don't take extra water like a lawn.

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  12. Honestly we never water the lawn! We let the rain do that for us.

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  13. I never water my lawn...only the flower/veg beds. If the grass turns brown I don't worry about it since we live outside of town and with the next rain it will turn green again! My flower/veg gardens are extensive so I love the idea of native/regional plants to use!
    I also like you on FB :)

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  14. I live up in the mountains of western North Carolina and seem to have enough rain for the yard and the vegetable garden. In the event we do have to water, only the vegetables get attention since we are on a well and don't want to be wasteful. Our front yard does look a little ragged, however, and I have often thought groupings of various flowers and herbs that don't require much watering would be smart. Her book sounds like it would be so helpful in pointing me in the right direction! NCHillbillyGirl@aol.com

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  15. We water our garden several times a week in the summer, but we don't water the lawn here in southern Indiana. Precious water goes into the food instead. If we keep expanding the garden at the pace we have been going it will all be produce anyway, so then I guess the entire lawn will get watered!

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  16. We have a small suburban yard. With 4 chickens and 2 border collie's chasing anything that moves (except the chickens) our yard needs help. I'd love to try something different. We water ALOT but it doesn't seem to make a difference.. Susan.
    my2bordercollies@comcast.net

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  17. Never. We water our garden, flower beds, grape arbors, fruit trees, strawberry beds and herb garden. We use rainwater we collect in industrial size storage for watering and use a soaker hose for all of it. I have intentionally planted clover in the grass. My honey bees are happy and the"grass" looks great!!

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  18. I NEVER water my lawn as I converted whatever had been lawn to gardens and a Cape Cod "pine needle lawn" years ago!

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  19. I'm proud to say never! It's mostly field which we have hayed a few times a year... & the rest, well, that's comprised of whatever green decides to grow naturally. It's a pretty combination of wild chives, clover, dandelion, & all sorts of pretty little plants commonly destroyed & replaced with plain old grass.

    I'd be honored to win this book. It would get alot of use & I will share it at garden club! ;-)

    DebraAnne@GIPSYinthePARLOUR.com

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  20. I water 3 times a week - Tu, Th, Sa - just like they taught me in El Paso, TX.

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  21. Great topic. I just cannot give resources to my grass. So I continue to expand my herbs. But I have a huge front lawn. Anything that beats out my grass is welcome to stay.
    But the grass looks good in the summer anyway. My dream is to plant it in German Cham.

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  22. It will be exactly 30 years this summer since I watered a lawn, and I'm proud of it. :) We continue to increase our gardens each year and enjoy the harvest on our table instead of under our feet. Thanks for the chance. grandparentsplus2@gmail.com

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  23. We water every other day due to watering restrictions. Thanks for the chance to win! sheri8259 at yahoo dot com

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  24. We water 3 times a week.

    lovelydomesticdiva (at) gmail (dot) com

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  25. I water only the flowers....the grass does not bring me nearly as much happiness!!

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  26. Wow, lots of comments! I water once maybe twice a week depending on how hot and dry it is. We pull from the lake for our irrigation system and when watering with the hose, it is from our well. Like that Pam's book is divided into regions.

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  27. i have an all natural lawn, if my mower is broke, I let the horses mow for me. As for watering, I do not. I have a couple acres of lawn that I mow and the watering is up to Mother Nature!

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  28. I am striving to have a low to no maintenance lawn and grow veggies, herbs and beneficial plants. This book would be awesome.

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  29. Well, it was 2x a week,but then I planted white clover and lo and behold the rainfall was enough,bees flocked to the yard,plants in the edges grew great and we mow much less. We don't run outside barefooted, did that once, ouch!

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  30. Lawn? Whatever grows is more like it. I am too busy with other things like chickens or gardening. This book looks useful. I hope I win.

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  31. We have watering restrictions due to drought, but either way I water once a week. I don't have a lot of lawn left, but the perennials need it once a week anyway due to our lack of rains.

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  32. I don't water the lawnette~It's Danthonia spicata a native grass that does fine without supplemental watering. gail

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  33. Typically we don't water the lawn unless we just applied seed...however this past summer we did water twice a week.

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