Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lawnless Progress 2003 to 2011

       Winter weather has finally descended with seasonal chill and snow here in Michigan. This puts a temporary hold on my efforts to cut down on the lawn area in my yard. Reviewing progress helps me deal with the frustration of winter inactivity. 
       When we moved here in 2003, I had no idea I would one day embrace the mission of converting the huge lawn to something more attractive as well as more productive. Even so, I knew I would be making many changes and took photos to help me remember what the place looked like at the outset.
Our 160 years-old farmhouse as it appeared in 2003.
       Several little things have changed since this picture was taken. The large rock on the right has been moved to the path bordering the herb garden, which I put in in 2006. The cement steps leading up to the front door now lead down into the rose garden in the backyard, finished a year or so later. Bigger changes include a rock garden around the flagpole and a u-shaped drive swinging from the left, along the front of the house, then down to the road, which is behind me as I snapped the photo, and the evergreen garden, which fills most of the shaded area in the 2003 photo.
       The biggest change has nothing to do with lessening lawn space. I refer to the addition of the front porch that extends across the entire front and includes a front room addition that extends out from the old porch to the left of the concrete steps.
Front yard viewed from the porch, 2011.
       In 2011, all that remains of the front lawn is a band between the evergreen garden and the circular rock garden. Both the east and west sides of this grass area are edged with daffodil bulbs that I dug up from elsewhere in the yard this past summer. Hundreds of them. I read that they will create a barrier to grass, helping to keep it out of the gardens. I'm skeptical, but the blooms should be outstanding come spring as I selected the biggest bulbs for this project. 
       The area of dead grass in the middle ground will host something else come spring. Don't know what yet. Perhaps sweet potatoes, wild strawberries or creeping thyme until my budget or imagination comes up with alternatives.   
       My plan is for wild strawberries and cinque foil to fill in as ground covers in the evergreen garden in the background. These plants are in place, but they have a big job ahead of them. I've seen a front yard filled with these two plants so expect great things of them.
       This section of the front yard is the only area on the entire property that is approaching being "finished," and I'm pleased with the way it's going. It's not permaculture, which is my goal for some areas of the yard, but this is, I feel, a vast improvement over nothing but grass, grass everywhere! I like some grass as a place for grandchildren to kick a ball around or to put up a badminton net, but that's about it.
       My son's Christmas gift to me was a copy of Gaia's Garden, which I'm studying and devouring for information and inspiration. What a cool way to wait for spring!


  1. What about moss instead of grass for play areas? Still don't have to mow, but it would still be soft on little bare feet.

    1. I don't know much about moss, except I've heard it can be hard to get rid of if it's where you don't want it. I think it usually grows where drainage is poor, which isn't a problem on our hilltop. While it would feel pleasant to bare feet, I'm unaware of any food or health applications. Anyone have information to share regarding this?