Earth Day: Celebrating Lawn-Free Gardens

Happy Earth Day! I have no idea why we are celebrating earth today rather than any other day, but it’s definitely deserving. One of the best ways to honor the mother ship is to not waste her resources. In Southern California, where we live in a virtual desert by the sea, water is precious. One of the best and easiest ways to knock down that watering bill is to get rid of the chemical-dependent carpet of grass. I know it can be a huge mental block to rip it out, but there are so many resources out there to embolden you. And the yards I’ve seen that have gone lawn-free usually look great, too.

So to celebrate Earth Day, I thought I would walk around the block to see who in my neighborhood is pioneering lawn-free yards around here, and share some with you.

I happen to know that the owners of this home also run, or used to run, a local landscaping company called Instant Jungle, so it’s no coincidence that their yard is one of the most attractive up here. But with or without their help, you could do something like this, too. One of the tricks is mass plantings, and using drought-tolerant plants, such as succulents, cactus and grasses. When possible, natives are always best!

Succulents like these are so easy to grow and they just get more interesting with time.

Here’s another yard on a busy corner. They just drew in a path, threw down some decomposed granite, somehow got those large boulders in strategic locations, planted a sedum-like ground cover, tuft grasses and aloes, and vavoom! It looks great. No noisy lawn mowers around this place.

And it goes without saying how pleasant it is to walk by here  and always find different plants in bloom.

Here’s another yard that’s gone kind of Mad Men with the geometric designs. Besides the boulders, the hip owner has used the mounding grass, low-growing evergreens and lava rock to create a mid-century style design.

If you have an ultra modern home, you can’t go wrong with a cactus garden. ¬†Sculptural, stylistic and so exciting when they bloom.

If this has inspired you at all, here are some wonderful books for more ideas:

Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives

Reimagining the California Lawn:Water-conserving Plants, Practices, and Designs

The American Meadow Garden: Creating a Natural Alternative to the Traditional Lawn

3 thoughts on “Earth Day: Celebrating Lawn-Free Gardens

  1. Love it. I’ve been meaning to do a post like this on the mostly succulent garden I did for my friends in west Los Angeles but I haven’t had the time. Maybe next time I go visit them I will so I can take some more current photos.

  2. I loved joining you on your neighborhood garden visits. California is a dream place to garden as long as you pick the right plants to make life easier. It seems to me that when we lived in Irvine in the early 80s gardening style was quite different. I never had a single agave or cactus. Crystal Cove was our beach before it was a State Park. Wish could just walk down there today. You lucky person!

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