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My Front Yard Garden #4: The First 90 Days - De-grassing & Prepping for Spring

The grass in our new front yard is officially GONE!

While I covered up the main portion of the front yard a month and change ago, yesterday I got the front side yard "coffee bagged" and it is now officially gone as far as I'm concerned. This was huge to me because grass is not only unnatural for most areas, it is a waste on a lot AND there is zero nutrition in the soil for worms, birds, bug, etc. Plus I did my mowing time on the farm - never again!!

"The existence of the lawn is not inherent to suburbia. We invented it. Across the world, we adopted the practice, emulating the wealthy while starving ourselves and our small lots in lieu of more productive uses of space. We ditched simple gardens of food and instead devoted a couple of hours each weekend to the supermarket and Saturday mornings to weed eating instead of eating our own crops. Whatever spells the media and “the man” have cast on us, it was all our choice and one that the vast majority continue to make by adhering to neighborhood regulations and the prescribed normalcy of growing and cutting grass.." ~ from the website Permaculture News

It's always been a priority to me wherever I live to transform the outdoor spaces into ones that are inviting for use by both people AND wildlife. Restoring one patch at a time, with no fertilizer, no pesticides, and no BS. Sadly, in our new neighborhood you see lots of lawns...but never anyone out on them! I can't fathom filling them with chemicals and mowing them mercilessly...then never even being out on them!

This isn't to completely diss lawns altogether - but rather to respect the fact that the more diversity we introduce into our yards, both in plant and animal, the more healthy they will be. I kept a patch of grass in my first backyard, had tons of it on the farm even after creating a massive flower garden in front, and here in the Skagit Valley, we're leaving a small patch in back as the dog loves to scratch his back on it, but we won't water it (grass, after all, is meant to go yellow in summer, just like leaves turn color in fall!) and if I go over it with the weedwacker the cut grass will be left on the lawn to feed it. Like the rest of nature, our gardens will be diverse from trees to flowers to grasses and more...

The "before" listing photos below were taken with verrrry wide angle lenses and drones of course, so I couldn't do an exact replica of the front as it stands today, but I think y'all get the picture of how the transformation process has begun...and I've included a detailed description of 'what exactly I did' at the top of this post....

There will obviously be MUCH more to plant in the spring (lots of hyssop and salvia and sunflowers and cardoon, oh my!), but as longtime gardeners like myself know, autumn is not exactly when there are huge varieties of goodies to plant at the nurseries, so I've planted about fifteen drought-tolerant items in the enclosed area, including but not limited to: manzanita, rosemary, chamallow, yarrow, curry, smokebush, chaste tree, eucalyptus, yucca, and a variety of herbs. The seller did have a gorgeous lavender which you can see on the left, so we tripled up and added two more where the 'christmas tree' spruce was that we donated to a neighbor.

(Which reminds me...don't like a plant? Don't just chop it down - first see if it can be dug up and donated! Many aren't nearly as hard to move as you might think - even large rhododendrons are shallow-rooted and handle transplantation at this time of year quite well...not to mention that there are so many folks on limited income who would LOVE to take it off your hands! We gave away 75% of the plants that didn't suit our vibe, and the rest became hugelkultur-style filler for our raised beds in back - nothing even ended up in the yard waste bin!)

Looking out from the front porch, it's night and day compared to the listing photo. Yes, it's quite brown right now from all the mulch, but a year from now it will look wildly different, and in two years there will be barely a hint of mulch as it all fills in beautifully. .

So now, when I sit in my chair and I look out the window from our living room, or relax on one of the chairs of our li'l veranda (y'all don't know how long I've dreamed to have a covered front sitting area so while this isn't an old farmhouse, I'm still going to use the term veranda!!), I don't see the car, or a staid lifeless lawn, but rather the potential that will realize itself in spring, the little birds who'll perch on the eucalyptus, the hummingbirds who will go crazy when they discover the pineapple sage's flowers in late summer, the bees who will flock to the poppies and oregano and valerian, and our sweet old dog who will finally be able to sun himself on the porch watching the world go by (since it's now fully fenced), and my husband and I who will stroll around in it, both in the front and back, ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the latest blooms.

I'm so in love with this evolution already!

"In a word, we are revolutionary real estate spectators who notice the productive potential of these open spaces around our homes, and we are making gardens abundant with food and with a splendid array of colors, species, flowers, microclimates, water catchments, animal habitats, and patios (for the humans). Rather than crushing the spirit of nature, mowing her down every weekend, we are encouraging new growth, and new thinking, our minds not locked into the “need” to prove we can grow grass. We are not a cult, but rather cultivators, and we are looking for people to join us."


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