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03.10.2015 admin
As a mother of two, a garden designer who works with plenty of young families, and a former kid myself, I think that’s hogwash. The sad truth is that most kids hardly set foot in their own yards today thanks to the indoor lure of video games, texting, Instagram, and whatever the latest cool app is. The bad news, much lamented by wellness experts over the past decade, is that kids are spending less time than ever in nature. The really good news is that doing so can actually make your yard more enticing to your kids than a lawn ever could. I remember as a kid my favorite spot in my big, suburban back yard was the woodpile stacked between two trees, which my friends and I, caped like superheroes, climbed onto and pretended was the Bat Cave. They taught me, and I remembered from experience, that the best yard you can create for your kids is one that they can explore.
So I say to those who reject the idea of a no-lawn yard as detrimental to children, think again. BOOK GIVEAWAY: Whether you’re ripping out your lawn for you or your kids, you may be interested in my book Lawn Gone! On the other side of the house was the veggie garden where we could find fat tomato worms and creepy crawly things.
Growing up we had lawns but my favorite stop was a huge (or at least it seemed to me) rock that was in the middle of the backyard.
As an adult I don’t want to abandon my yard to overgrown shrubbery, but I have gradually been eliminating lawn through the years. Fellow Lawn Reformer Paul Tukey recommends that families ask themselves what lawn sports they really play at home, then create a lawn that provides for that sport (if any).
We used to play all over the neighborhood wherever there were weeds or washouts to explore.
When I had a large yard, my children were never on the lawn area, but always in my garden parts. My childhood (a long long long time ago) was spent trying to be a kid in what at the time was the world’s largest city (Tokyo, Japan) and alternating summers at my grandfathers farm in western Oklahoma.
I still fondly remember how much I loved our wild desert backyard and eventually front yard.
We just finished a whole yard remodel, adding sod where there had only been dead weedy grass, and so many borders that now I’m wondering if I’m in over my head and should have added more sod! We just bought a house earlier this year and are in the process of redesigning our yard to get rid of the lawns. I bet if I went through my photos from the last 19 years living in coastal Southern California I could not find one photo of my kids playing on the small patch of lawn my husband insisted we needed for them. I remember one of my Landscape Design professors asserting that a child who really wanted to stand out in the middle of a big empty lawn might be disturbed. Having trails and obstacles through the yard would have been much better than a boring plane of grass! My son is only 6 months and already we have to work on keeping him away from the smart phone, laptop, and television! Who would want their kids playing in one of those toxic lawns where the bugs and birds dare not go?
I want most of mine gone but my issue is I want native groundcovers for PA to replace it and most people writing these books are from TX and CA and AZ. I grew up, and lived my whole life in New England, until we moved to tropical Cape Coral, FL last year. These aeoniums, papyrus, cordylines, kangaroo paws, and small palms need no fertilizer or pesticides—only occasional watering by a drip system and a little pruning.They also easily tolerate shifts from sun to rain.
Generally, when people say xeriscaping, the image of stones and arid environments comes to mind.
The most common myth is the idea that cacti, succulents and gravel mulch are considered xeriscaping.
In fact, the overuse of gravel can actually increase the temperature around plants, resulting in even more water use.


As for the use of cacti and succulents only in xeriscapes, there are numerous plants available, from annuals and perennials to grasses, shrubs and trees that will thrive in a xeriscape setting. People also mistakenly believe that xeriscapes have to be limited to one particular style, such as the rock garden. There are lush tropical xeriscapes, fascinating Mediterranean desert xeriscapes, Rocky Mountain xeriscapes, woodland xeriscapes, or formal and informal xeriscapes. Some people are misguided into the assumption that xeriscapes cost too much to build and maintain.
In a recent article in the New York Times about drought-prone cities paying homeowners to rip out water-hogging lawns, one critic implied that families should keep their lawns for their children’s sake. Sure, kids still play a lot of sports, but these activities are scheduled on school and municipal fields.
Even you young parents can feel justified in ripping out the lawn and remaking your yard to your gardener’s heart’s content.
Unless your children are playing on that lawn regularly, you could transform your yard from a lawn desert into a diverse, interesting, enticing place of discovery for your whole family to enjoy, and likely conserve water and create wildlife habitat in the process. Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard, which I wrote for beginning gardeners and anyone concerned about the environmental costs of maintaining a lawn. No lawn but lots of plants, rocks, water features, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, toads and lizards create surprises everywhere you look. Sometimes I missed the other place and sometimes I was just thrilled that I got to do both. Some people enjoy that kind of puttering more than mowing and edging, and that works for them.
My kids certainly aren’t too interested in a plain stretch of grass like we have there now! The lawn was used predominantly for croquet, the occasional game of catch, and my mother’s vegetable garden. As more people go lawnless, especially in the front yard, it will become more acceptable — and eventually, hopefully, the norm.
I always had beautiful gardens and pathways and woods AND lawns on our acre and a half in CT. There are numerous myths associated with xeriscaping; however, the truth is that xeriscaping is a creative landscaping technique that uses low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants grouped together to form natural-looking landscapes that conserve energy, natural resources, and water.
Again, although native plants are recommended and tolerate conditions to a particular climate easier, there are numerous types of plants that are well adapted for use in xeriscape landscapes. Xeriscaping is simply a better alternative to water-hungry lawns and annuals, especially in areas where arid summers are typical. In fact, xeriscapes can cost far less both to build and maintain than traditional landscaping.
In fact, many low-water or drought-tolerant plants need only be watered when first planted.
This easy, low-cost, low-maintenance alternative to traditional landscaping can be every bit as beautiful and even better for the environment. Would it be an exaggeration to say it borders on neglect not to keep a lawn for your children or grandchildren to play on? They’re not the casual pickup games with the neighbors’ kids in the front yard that some of us remember.
Next door lived the luckiest kids in the world, or so it seemed to me, because the recent construction of their home had left a 6-foot mound of lumpy soil, overgrown with weeds, which was perfect for creeping up commando-style and spying on grownups from the high, secret perch. When you think about it that way, a lawn is depriving your children of experiences with nature that they’re unlikely to get elsewhere.
Filled with how-to information, design ideas, plant suggestions, and plenty of inspirational photographs, it’ll show you how rewarding a lawnless or less-lawn garden can be.
We play croquet and bocci sometimes, but I think I would really like to have some meandering paths and hideaways for my kids. There we discovered the toads and horny toads, rode the nearly horizontal mesquite branch like it was our own wild stallion, and were free to explore the wild flowers and rocks like it was our own magical kingdom.


I already have the book and if you are looking for ideas, inspiration and practical advice about transforming your outdoor space you should get a copy for yourself. And our guinea pigs loved to sit in the lettuce patch and eat (with a laundry basket over them to keep from wandering). But for those who want less maintenance, I do have suggestions in my book, including the use of more shrubs and grasses, massing plants, use of quality edging and mulch; also, increasing the amount of hardscaping. My favorite places to hang out were in the tree outside my bedroom window and in the woods that bordered the property.
We have a large, flat, lot and I would love to add little trails and play patches for the kid and dogs to enjoy! Although rock gardens can be implemented, there are an unlimited number of other choices with regard to xeriscape designs. In fact, existing lawns may be reduced and new lawns may implement one of the many alternative types of turf to include native grasses, which are less demanding of water.
Not only do these landscapes survive with significantly less irrigation, they harmonize with the natural landscape. Xeriscaping refers to the design of landscapes and gardens that minimize the requirements for water, not eliminating them.
A good water-wise landscape can be designed to avoid expensive automatic irrigation as well as weekly mowing maintenance. Overall, most parts of xeriscapes require less than half the water of established high-water landscapes, even during the first year.
When we moved a few years later to a house in an established, more landscaped neighborhood, I loved to hang out in the woodsy, overgrown area at the back of the yard, not the open lawn. We had a lawn in front, vegetable garden in the back and the rest was left up to whatever happened. Part of our lawn has been converted to a patio, but it’s hard to envision what to do with the rest of it. Appropriate irrigation methods and water-harvesting techniques are an integral part of this concept. Trying to create a manicured lawn on a rocky site is far more difficult than creating an attractive rock garden on the same site. During the mild South Carolina winter my sister and I raided our garden’s pine trees and Camellia sasanqua hedge to make tiny bark boats adorned with frilly, pink blossoms, and floated them on the waterlogged cover of the pool.
The bushes provide far more hours of fun than the bushless and treeless backyard on the other house that we seriously considered. If we needed grass for football, soccer, or baseball there was always the hayfield next door, or the lawn down at the church. After seeing that picture of Pam’s yard at the top of the article, my heart skipped a few beats and I found myself contemplating how I could travel to Austin and perform a garden design mind meld with her! They love trying to catch lizards and holding out a sweaty hand to see if a passing butterfly will land for a moment. Short of that stroke of brilliance, I guess the next best thing to do would be to purchase her book, “Lawn Gone!” =o) Great article, Pam!
They love riding trikes and scooters on circuitous routes through a garden, the junglier the better. Leafy plants offer touchable texture and help hide parts of the garden from view, making even a short garden stroll an adventure: what new bloom or butterfly will appear around the bend?
And, if you like, a small lawn fits quite nicely into such a space, offering a restful spot for the eye and the body – and even a game of catch.



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