"Getting rid of everything that doesn’t matter allows you to remember who you are. Simplicity doesn’t change who you are, it brings you back to who you are."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Nibbling Away At The Yard

Last week Lynda over at Cortina Creek made a comment that stuck with me.  She said that

                "It's costly to take care of something that doesn't give back..."

Never have truer words been spoken. 

Look at that lawn.  We don't fertilize it at all.  And still it grows.  Now I like some lawn in the yard.  It's nice to walk around barefoot in the summer and feel the grass between your toes.  And of course it's handy to have for the dogs to do their business in but we've got way too much of it.  I even have a $1200 riding lawn mower dedicated just to that patch of green stuff.  (Not to mention the $3.79 a gallon gas I need to pour into it in order to make it run.)  Nope.  If I didn't live in a subdivision I wouldn't have a lawn at all.  Or not much of one.  So what can I do to now to minimize the yard I have and still keep the neighbors happy?

The backyard isn't a problem.  It's funny that front yards are open to public evaluation and even ridicule but the backyard?  Do what you want.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Sheds, pools, kids swing sets, grills...to each his own. 

Our backyard borders the backyards of three other houses.  The home owner directly behind us has a privacy row of cedars that I just love.  (We'll see how much I love them when my apples are diseased with cedar rust spot but I digress.) 

The neighbors on our right installed a pool last year.  They graded their lawn to guide the water away from their house and pool and guess where it ends up?  Yep.  We now have an area around the shed that has standing water.  (I might be able to grow rice there during the rainy season...@;) The grass will grow but not very well so I plan on turning that whole area into a natural area with wood chip mulch and flowers/ shrubs/ trees etc. (*Side note: I had originally wanted the veggie garden over on that side of the yard.  SM pushed for where the garden is now.  Good thing I listened to him!)

On the side where the veggie patch is are our neighbors that we never see.  Ever.  They run from car to house so quickly that we're not sure just who lives there.  But we do know that they don't spend any time outside so their yard is looking a bit poorly.  The porch is starting to fall apart.  They let the grass grow to about 4' high before hiring a lawn service to come in and mow.  KiKi found a hole in their fence and is now wandering over there no doubt doing "kitty business" under their porch.  

The garden is expanding again this year so some of this luscious green stuff will be gobbled up to make way for the green stuff we can eat.  So the backyard isn't the problem. 

The front yard is.

I really don't see anyway around it.  I'll have to have some kind of a lawn patch.  Now we don't have an HOA here so if my lawn is filled with weeds and dandelions I don't get any push back.  But there is a bit of psychological pressure when the yards beside you are artificially green and lush in March (...just you wait till the Summer burn out).  Still it's money up in smoke...(more like gas fumes I suppose.)

First things first though.  The backyard and garden are my top priorities.  The money goes there first.  But it is nice to start thinking about a Xeriscape front yard.  Someday.

Little nibbles, Tami.


  1. At least you don't actually have an HOA! We live across the street from one (read, we are NOT a part of it) and those people think they have the right to come over and yell at us about our front yard (which is a whole 5*15 ft with no grass and SUPER CUTE) and tell us they think our flower border is inappropriate. Ugh, I hate yuppies.

    You should totally turn your front yard into an English style garden with edible landscaping. I don't know much about that, but I have seen pictures on google and it really is pretty. I am sure it would look out of place in the suburbs, but who cares?!

  2. Even living out here in the middle of the woods, we have too much lawn. Our "front yard" is raspberry, blueberry, strawberry patches, 27 raised garden beds, 35 x 45' field garden and slighter smaller pumpkin patch. The part that is still too much "lawn" is where the fruit trees are planted. We've gotta figure out what to do with that 'cause mowing takes too much time. It's too big to mulch. Looks awful if we don't keep it mowed. I guess we all have our little problems and dilemmas wherever we are, huh? At least we have no one looking at our yard and/or telling us what to do. We've considered expanding garden space to take up more of the "lawn" but the two of us don't NEED more space to grow our own food. And I don't want to grow for sale. Been there, done that. (Rambling on, aren't I?)

  3. Tiny...Yes, I love to do just what you suggest but to be honest I'd be the first in the "hood" to do that and I expect we'd get tons of opinions just like you're getting. Front yard = public domain so while I hope to decrease the size of the lawn, I think I'll still have to have some lawn.

    Mama Pea...Please ramble away. @;) I love hearing about your life and gardens. I'm excited that you're getting back to your garden this year too. Not that I blame you for skipping last year with your house reno's. Me? I'd say call me when it's over and run away somewhere safe. We're starting to plan a tear-out of our master bath this spring and I'm SO wanting it over.

  4. I'm all about getting rid of lawn. Just remember when you start to make the transformation that you don't have to dig it all up. You can use the lasagna method to install your beds. Saves lots of time, trouble and back aches!
    Looking forward to seeing your dream come to fruition!

  5. I'm in agreement with the English garden idea... plant an apple tree or cherry tree. Put the herb garden out front too... Good luck. :)

  6. We have an HOA here that's really kind of an ignorant PITA. Last year they got after us because we had "moss" growing on our mailbox post (really some interesting lichens that I hated to have to scrape off to make them happy). This year they don't like that we have some bare spots where grass won't grow. We decided that, rather than spend lots of money and time trying to get grass to grow, we'd just cover it with pine straw. At least you don't have to mow that... These people really have too much time on their hands.

  7. Hey Sheila...Welcome.

    Chipmunk...Amen Sister...WAY too much time on their hands!

  8. Could you do a rain garden in the wet spot by the garage? I'm not exactly sure what that would entail, but it might give you some different plant options (and you wouldn't have to water them!).

    We lived with an HOA in our last house -- not terribly strict, but enough to be frustrating. And it was an over-50 community. Can you say, "lawn fanatics"? Love the picture of the alternate lawn. Would you have to worry about zoning regulations? Sometimes they can be as restricting as an HOA.

    Mama Pea -- Sounds like you have a "farmette"! Great garden space! I wonder if permaculture might be the way for you to go under the fruit trees? Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden book talks about plant "guilds" where you underplant fruit trees with plants that attract pollinators (and are beautiful to boot). Or a fast-spreading ground cover with just a few paths through for walking? Good luck getting rid of the lawn! My fantasy...