You’ll Be Glad You Did!

When we bought our Seattle home in 1993, the entire yard—front and back—was nothing but grass, save for a lone lilac tree and two peony bushes. My goal was to transform the 8,000-sq. ft. lot into a series of garden “rooms” to make the best use of the variety of sun and shade.

Our Seattle Home–November 1993

Our Seattle Home–November 1993

I knew I wanted a front yard full of flowers, so we started there. Maintaining an expanse of perfect, green grass takes a ton of water and weekly mowing, and often requires chemical herbicides that pollute waterways and harm birds and beneficial insects. Time to get rid of the lawn. 

At first, we planted some shrubs and spring bulbs. Next, we clipped the grass low and removed any large weeds, covering it all with thick, landscaping cloth, secured with metal pins. It’s porous, allowing water through while suppressing weeds. The cloth was covered with three inches of medium bark mulch to keep it secure and be more aesthetically pleasing. [Note: I just found this detailed video tutorial by Annaloy Nikkum on eliminating your lawn and planting natives.]

Within two years, the grass and weeds beneath the paper were totally dead. Over the seasons, we added perennials—a mix of native and cultivated flowers and shrubs. The yard between the house and the garage became beds for strawberries and tomatoes. The retained heat from the structures helps to combat our cool summer nights.

flowers along a front walkWhen a lawn is removed in favor of organically grown flowers and vegetables the benefits include not only beautiful color and healthy eating, but a way to connect with neighbors. When I’m out front weeding, watering and mulching, I meet people out for a stroll or walking their dogs, some on their way to the playground or synagogue up the block. They often stop to compliment the yard, or ask the name of a certain bloom. We strike up a conversation and become acquainted—something that would be difficult to do over the drone of a lawnmower.