April 12, 2012

Time to Think About Getting Rid of That Grass Lawn?

And eliminating air, water, and noise pollution? And enhancing your enjoyment of your property?

Why not join your neighbors who are moving in that direction?

I made my first stab at doing away with a grass lawn when the huge, beloved hackberry tree that had dominated my back yard (and made it difficult to maintain the grass) died.  I decided to relieve my depression over that loss by doing something dramatically different. So I called in a landscaping contractor (the excellent Janet Gaskin) and asked her to replace the tree and the lawn with a small pond and waterfall, three river birches, and lots of perennials. No more grass.

It's now my Shangri-La. Relaxing in my favorite rocking chair on the back porch, overlooking this garden restores my serenity like nothing else. Looking at a grass lawn just wouldn't do it for me.

Here's what it looks like in summer and fall:

Several years ago, approaching my 80th birthday, pushing a power mower around my front and side lawns on another hot muggy August day, I decided, "Enough!" Another call to Janet... and another welcome transformation. As with the back yard, Janet's gang put in the basics, but left lots of space for me to fill it in with my own attempts at gardening, which I enjoy.

Here's the result with the front entrance yard (the patch of grass in the foreground belongs to my neighbor):

And here's the side yard:

Here's the house up the street with the front yard I'd always admired -- my inspiration:

Last year, I spent lots of time walking around my lovely Palisades neighborhood with my camera. I realized that more and more of my neighbors were switching to planted -- not grass -- yards. I thought the choice made the neighborhood more interesting and attractive.

Hilly Slopes Need Plants, Not Grass
The Palisades is hilly, so grass lawns would be almost impossible to maintain. Here are some examples:

Porches and Plants Go Together
Planted yards work well with the many front porches:

Finally, here are a few other planted front yards:

Now, you tell me: don't these plantings create a more interesting neighborhood than one grass lawn after another? And none of these yards require a noisy pollution-spouting power motor on a Sunday (or other) morning. Nor do they require lawn fertilizers with runoffs that pollute our beautiful Potomac River.

So... what about it? Time to do away with that boring grass lawn?


Cwbalseiro said...

Such beautiful photos! I wonder how feasible non-grass yards are in South Florida... must do some research!

Mat Thorp said...

Good stuff, John. In days beyond recall, Lynn(wife) and I replaced grass with pachysandra-we thought. However , ivy overwhelmed it. So now I`m happy with ivy, no lawnmower, and all-year green.-Mat

Susan Cimburek said...

My lawn keeps getting smaller but I'd like it be gone altogether. You've inspired me to keep going!  Perhaps my next step should be building out my foundation plantings....  hmmm...  Thanks, Jon!

Danlozier said...

We have gotten rid of all but a small patch, we are doing the landscaping ourselves with the help of once a week or so assistant and it is looking great.  come by and see, our back and side yards and I can tell you what is old and what is new.  going veggies this year and should be better without the neighbors big stockade fence (and actually the house), finally my sun is back.  5230 Sherier, the Loziers.  

John said...

I'll definitely give your yard a look -- easy to remember address -- our first house was 5030 Sherier (but in those days it was erroneously spelled Sherrier.

Mjgore said...

I so need to get rid of my grass. I have always found Janet Gaskins' designs (Landscape Designs Inc.) to be a  reflection of nature and its abundance, but ordered in a way to share the joys of simplicity. Your yard is lovely and inspiring. I hope I can put some of these ideas to use. Thank you fro posting, Mary Jane, Durham, NC

Geraldine Stanley said...

These are wonderful lawns, John. Using plants to decorate the lawn does look more interesting than just going with the plain grass turf. It also helps freshen up the place, especially if you have some flowering plants and shrubs in there.


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