Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The back lawn is gone


The dog and I spent many a happy summer morning sitting under the walnut tree, watching the sprinklers run on the back lawn.


Watching sprinklers makes people feel good.


The previous owners of our house dug in that sprinkler system themselves. When they came to visit, a year after we bought the house, the four of us had dinner on the back deck. My husband ran the sprinkler system to demo that it was still working well. “Oh, that’s nice,” she sighed. We all sat smiling at the lawn.


That was 13 years ago. The lawn grew tired.


Mr. Daffodil Planter and I learned about dethatching lawns (fun!) and toiled in various ways on each inch of turf: kneeling with dandelion forks, spreading compost, pacing back and forth cranking handles of seed broadcasters, hoping each time that the gods of gardening would reward our efforts.


Last month we took a long look at the tussocky, patchy quarter-acre of turf. The only one really enjoying it was our galloping dog. And she didn’t have to mow.


Fate intervened. One sprinkler head refused to cooperate. “Let’s stop watering the lawn!” we said in unison.


And we have lived happily ever after.


We don’t know what we’re going to plant instead. Henry Mitchell would tell us that an open central area in full sun is perfect for a lily pool.


He’d be right, and then we could invite Animal Planet over to film all the mule deer, mountain lions, raccoons, and probably black bears who would stop by for a sip. So, short of opening our house as a nature-watchers' bed-and-breakfast, that idea is out.


We’re counting on the "no lawn" before-and-after photos at Blue Planet Gardening to inspire us.


In the meantime, the dog and I sit under the walnut tree in the morning and watch the Steller’s Jays.



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24 comments:

susan morrison (garden chick) said...

Thanks for the shout out for Blue Planet Gardening, but you had me at the back lawn is gone.

You are going to LOVE being liberated from your lawn! Environmental issues aside, the best reason for gardeners to trade in their lawn? More room to garden, of course!

Anonymous said...

don't forget to still water your foundation so it doesn't crack!

Daffodil Planter said...

Susan, Blue Planet Gardening is KEY to solving our gardening dilemma!

Anon, Yeah right!

mothernaturesgarden said...

Hubby was always happy to dig a garden bed that he would never have to mow again.
Donna

DirtDigger (Tessa) said...

Sounds like you're gonna have your work cut out for you- how fun! I really like the idea to grow food not lawn- but I bet the deer would really like that idea too :)

Kat said...

Hurray! One more lawn bites the dust.

Laura Livengood Schaub said...

That's how it begins! The demise of my front lawn began with a broken sprinkler head that I simply could not bring myself to fix. A year later I had a wonderful garden and the supreme satisfaction of giving my lawnmower to my father (all I miss is my compost fodder!) Give it time. Think about structure, ways to organize the space and move through it. Sitting and staring at it helps a lot!

Daffodil Planter said...

Mother Nature, We'll try to keep that in mind. Digging in this clay is no joke.

Tessa, You said it! It's a perfect spot for vegetables, but we'd have to do a Stalag-type fence to keep the deer out. Not sure we want to make that "statement", you know.

Daffodil Planter said...

Welcome Kat! Yes, one less water hog. We could have had a LOT of hydrangeas with all that water.

Daffodil Planter said...

Laura, If we can have something half as nice as your front garden we will be over the moon. Ed. note: Go to the Northern California blog roll in my sidebar and see Laura's front garden in InterLeafings.

Town Mouse said...

If you liked watching the sprinklers, how about a solar fountain? Yes, the critters will enjoy it, but if it's just water...

I found that keeping some open space (I have a decomposed granite plaza with a hammock) is a good thing. Plants can grow around that are. Can't wait to see what you come up with.

Daffodil Planter said...

Town Mouse, What a good idea for the solar fountain! I think the negative ions from the sprinklers must be part of their appeal, and we'd get that from a fountain too. Thank you!

Heather said...

I don't have it in me to stop watering mine yet but I am slowly starting to eat it up with beds and paths. Soon, very soon I won't water or mow as much!

Daffodil Planter said...

Heather, Encroaching beds sound very pretty! We went cold turkey and now hear the odd sound of crunching when we walk on the dead grass.

Michelle said...

Welcome to the League of the Lawn Liberated (lame, but it's the best I could come up with). I really don't miss having one. Two houses ago I ripped out the lawn and put in raised beds for veggies. When we sold the house I resigned myself to the idea that someone would come in and rip out the beds and put in a lawn. Big surprise, the veggie garden was a big attraction to potential buyers. Next house had a lawn and I had to buy a lawn mower. I hated mowing. What joy that the next house (this one) never had a lawn. I gave the mower away.

2GoodHands said...

Wish I had the time and the $$ to get rid of our lawn. If I just let it die, the knapweed will take over! Xeriscaping! I'd love to xeriscape my yard! Now, where did I put that winning lotto ticket...?

Daffodil Planter said...

Michelle, We do still have a small front lawn, but it seems happy as we slowly encroach on it with more shade plants. Heartening to hear that your no-lawn approach was attractive to house buyers!

Welcome 2GoodHands! Oh, it's going to cost money? Hmm, hadn't really taken that step yet....

Beegirl said...

It is hard to let go, but good for you !! We don't have any grass around the house (wooded) and only a bit back by the garden. Honestly, I hate to mow, so we never put in a lawn and let nature take care of the rest. Well, that and a lot of green cover that doesn't need mowing or water.. you know..

Daffodil Planter said...

Beegirl, Thanks for the no-lawn support! We did lose some white clover along with the lawn, but the bees have lots of other things to visit here.

Garden Wise Guy said...

Good on you, committing lawn-o-cide! I've been advocating for it for about a decade and the trend continues to build. Unless lawns are used for recreation, they have no business in climates where nature doesn't take care of all their needs. Good on ya!

Daffodil Planter said...

GWG Billy, You have been fighting the good fight, especially in arid Southern California. My Anglophilia still irrationally cries out for a lawn, but this particular one was so sad that it was easier to let it go.

Billy Goodnick said...

For anyone who needs a theme song to motivate you to remove your lawn, here it is...Takin' Out The Grass Is A Gas! That's me on drums. http://www.garden-chick.typepad.com/

Daffodil Planter said...

Billy, A Grammy in the wings?

Readers, here's a quick link to Billy's music video, and some others on the subject. http://www.lawnreform.org/movies.html

Julie Orr Landscape Design said...

The neighbors probably thought we were nuts when we converted our front lawn this year. I plan on taking the Rosalind Creasy approach and doing edible landscaping garden instead of a boring lawn in front. Wish me luck!