Every Blooming Thing: More homeowners reducing the size of their lawns
After completion of our new home, almost 12 years ago, we were faced with the daunting task of planning the landscaping.
Having researched numerous magazines, books and anything else I could lay my hands on for inspiration, and after much deliberation, a perfect plan — I hoped — was conceived and roughly drawn out on paper.
We started first with adding compost, fertilizer and top soil to the areas planned for the flower beds as well as the lawn. The soil here needed extra work as Thomas Creek once flowed through our property causing it to have more than our share of sand and gravel.
Great for olive trees, not so much for lawn and flower beds.
Wanting to keep maintenance to a minimum, the plan was to keep the flower beds to a manageable amount with lots and lots of lawn. Good idea, I thought. When completed, our lawn area was a little less than 2,000 square feet.
The first two or three years, it was beautiful and really not too much work — twice-a-year fertilization, mowing, watering, an occasionally a weed or two, nothing too major. Every successive year since then, new challenges have emerged to maintain that beautiful lawn, and more and more time and money is being spent on fertilizers, pesticides, weeding and, of course, trying to exterminate gophers and moles.
Coming to the realization that I was actually spending less time and money tending to my perennial flower beds than I was on my beloved lawn, slowly and surely, step by step, my lawn area is receding and more landscaped beds are appearing. Even as I write, I am plotting my next eradication of lawn and new planting of flowers, shrubs and trees.
What started this love affair with our lawns? Was it perhaps our childhood memories of running barefoot through the freshly cut grass, feeling it tickle our toes?
Whatever the reason, we lavish affection on our lawns to the tune of $40 billion a year. This money is spent on fertilizer, weed and pest control, and yard-care equipment. All in hopes, perhaps, of having a lawn our neighbors will be envious of.
We did not always have a love affair with our lawns. In fact, it was not until the Industrial Revolution that lawns became practical for most Americans. Lawns were seen as a luxury for only the wealthy who could afford groundskeepers to maintain the fine bladed plants using scythes. Others used grazing sheep or cattle to keep the green stuff at a manageable height as did Woodrow Wilson while occupying the White House.
At a typical rural home, the area just outside the front door was packed dirt or perhaps a cottage garden that contained a mix of flowers, herbs and vegetables.
As our concerns rise over the amount of water needed to maintain a healthy lawn and over pesticide and fertilizer use and their associated health risks, more and more homeowners are reducing the size of their lawns, creating more flower beds filled with perennials, yard art, and water features.
I know I am, and loving every minute of it.
Diane Cleland is a member of The Red Bluff Garden Club which is affiliated with Cascade District Garden Club; California Garden Clubs, Inc; Pacific Region Garden Clubs and National Garden Clubs Inc.