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!