Grass Week

Mow Mow Mow Mow Mow Mow ……….

Tiring isn’t it? Well some homeowners have this problem licked. What a better way to kick the habit of the Saturday ritual, but to plan, plant plan, plant, plan, plant.

Typo. No, but say that three times. I know I can’t even say it once.

Planning is the key for good design, whether making a butterfly garden, hummingbird refuge, or songbird haven. Or just kicking the grass to the curb.

Joining the crowd of converts willing to shed the burden of mowing for perennial planting, or any other groundcover for that matter “is a good thing”, like Martha always says.  Tending a garden is so much more rewarding than revving the engine and pushing the mower to mere exhaustion. At least you get something out of it and so do other creatures, tenfold.

Well these Buffalo residents have started a phenomenon in the area by literally turning over their lawns into lush and beautiful gardens, replacing grass with flowers. They create magical spaces for butterflies, bees and birds, and a few rabbits, but they are cute little critters. Chewing machines, but that’s another post.

Yes, those tall perennials create shelter as well, but that helps to create habitat. Today is all about the aesthetics of this type of garden, not the ecological benefits. Gosh knows, eco articles abound and they are written about ad nauseum. Reduce mowing and add beauty. What a great concept.

Word is that a cute little bunny has moved in here, to the potager in the rear yard of this gorgeous home, to the left. In fact, bunnies moved in throughout this neighborhood if I remember correctly. Our street is similar, as we have acquired families of bunnies setting up residence. They have been spotted all along the south side of the street.

They are cute until your prized vegetables are missing or five-foot laceleaf Japanese maple pruned to artistic perfection is gnawed to death. Another story all together. Someday I will be over it enough to talk about it. So sad. Blasted wabbits.

This property above, has gorgeous plantings and brick paths winding through the front yard. The height of the plants gesture the height of the home so well. No missing the grass here.

Like a green ground-plane, then there is no problem keeping it almost all green. A little shade and instant beauty with no mowing involved can be achieved by using ferns to make a wonderful display.

Want to get out of the shade and into the sun? Go grab yourself a piece of sunshine for everyday. What a better way than using all the hot colors and loading them up all the way to the sidewalk. The plants used give the composition proper height. This home would not be the same with just grass.

Shun the city concrete, take a step farther and walk the gravel path into this paradise of sunshine. All these images were taken on the same day. I swear the sun shines on this property, seen below, every single day. A bird bath welcomes feathered friends. But why stop there?

Plant on both sides of the sidewalk to double your impact. Grass be gone. Phlox. Russian Sage, Rudbeckia, daylily, make a much nicer planting than mundane grass. The color just rings with happiness. And friends, too.

Why stop here?

Get the whole street into the act and give the trees a little company. Garden design is infectious in neighborhoods. When the first gardener takes the plunge and beautifies the Hell Strip, others follow suit.

Once started, there is no stopping. Forge ahead into the center median like below. Plant in groupings to allow for pedestrian passage. A little grass can remain. It acts as a path for the caretakers to care and maintain the blooms. The grassed areas allow for somewhere to put winter snow. Seriously though, maintenance and pedestrian travel are really important. So, plan, plant, plan.

I am a planner by the very nature of my profession, but if any type of garden lets you throw organization to the wind, it is this type.

It is so easy to buy without thought to the placement. The cottage look gives the illusion of lack of planning, but that is not necessarily true. Color combos,  plant height and texture play into the beauty of these garden groupings.

Take planning a step farther and have your landscape coordinate with your home. Just imagine this home, below, without all the color and texture of the plants. The home is stunning, but the clever landscape design is a key to making it really shine. Landscaping should reference the home and does this example ever reference. Look at the two Alberta Spruce. Does that remind you of any part of the home in pairs? I do not have a larger image of this garden, but I would bet the curved walkway and interior planting reference the red wall plaque as well. The little detail of the painted ladder to the second floor shows how much thought went into every decision made on this home.

You can always add shrubs to the mix, to realize anything but lawn grass. This home coordinates color as well. The little touch of the brick edging dresses up the most boring of concrete.

Now pull up the lawn chair and……

Rest Rest Rest Rest Rest Rest……………

Peaceful isn’t it?

And I cannot leave y’all with out this little gem. A real live lawn chair, just in case you are having lawn withdrawal. Hey, fellows I’m talking to YOU!

I found it here.

The ultimate outdoor furniture – a literal lawn chair upholstered in sod. Moisture is dispensed under the sod for happy healthy grass. I suppose it will give the men their mowing pleasure and maybe a wet butt to boot.

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About Donna Brok

Love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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15 Responses to Grass Week

  1. I am sooo trying to get rid of all my grass. 3/4 of an acre of lawn, when we moved in, 4 hours just to cut, (never mind the edging), now down to 3 hours, yay! I will just have to double my efforts (and plants) and will be sitting on that lawn chair soon, lol.

    • 3 hours of mowing. Yikes. I am not kidding, it takes me less than two minutes to mow my front yard.

      I will be posting the large properties that I design for Grass Week. And you will see GRASS. They have a full staff for grass mowing and upkeep. But they also have perennial beds 500 feet long and 50 feet wide. So it is certainly not all grass. I will explain in the post why so much grass is used so as not to compete with the views. There is always a reason.

  2. Meredehuit says:

    Fabulous post! Concept of loosing your lawn to flower beds is always a great solution, but you presented it in a light hearted and fun way. I love your pics, those are beautiful homes, but I must say, the “lawn chair’ stole my heart. I’ll visit again!

    • Thank-you for the really nice comment. My job is so serious dealing with large residential clients and commercial properties, that I like to change up the mood with the blog. I have a funny story about a design for a doctor’s property that I will maybe will post next week. I like to keep the blog light. Hence my little computer graphics that I draw almost daily. Drafting plans and working drawings gets to be like WORK. And I like work to be like fun.

  3. Ginny says:

    I enjoyed this post and the one preceding it so much – my goodness, the lawn police! I like your point of view and perspective on grass. We have some, but not a lot, and it’s grass native to our region so requires no irrigation.

    • That is wonderful you are using natives and I commend you on that. New York has a Go Green initiative which is suggesting native plants to be installed on public projects or with public funding. My grower and nurseryman has run into this on a few occasions, so more planting of natives is being done.

  4. What inspiring photos you’ve shared. I will get there one day. I’m now “lawnless” in the back yard–still some along the alley. My front yard only takes 7 minutes to mow. :-) 7 more minutes to drag the mower to the alley and mow it.

    • Seven minutes to mow is such a relief. I do not like mowing and it was one of my reasons for reducing the grass as much as I can and retain the design intent in the front yard. If I did not have pets, I would have had the backyard designed as a paved courtyard, but do have some (very little) grass to mow there.

  5. Amy says:

    What a lovely neighborhood! You are right…a plain green lawn just wouldn’t compliment the homes at all. I would like to kick my grass to the curb, maybe one day. Enjoyed your post!

    • Thank you so much. I know my yard is a bit different than my neighbors, but my guess is that a few will convert some grass over next year. And if I get the courage to do the ‘hell strip’, I may get some followers as well.

  6. I enjoyed your post. Those houses or should I say gardens are beautiful. Wow, I have a long way to go to get rid of my lawn but I’m starting.

    • The gardens in Buffalo are gorgeous. What a great thing they have in Garden Walk Buffalo. They have 335 of them on the walk, but I photographed many that were not even official, and they were just as beautiful.

      It is hard parting with a lawn. But my bad hip helped me make the decision. I just want to go out with grass shears for what is left.

  7. That first house is a stunner! And I don’t have to work that hard to keep it that way. Grass yards, even small ones, being a monoculture, discourage bugs, bees, butterflies and bunnies. They are are time-consuming to maintain, water-consuming ($$) and still can turn brown during and look ugly during the heat of August around here. They can, if it’s your thing, require fertilizers & chemicals to keep ‘em happy healthy & weed-free, to the detriment of the environment on whole. I probably spend about a week-and-a-half’s worth of time weeding, watering and deadheading my non-lawn each year, as opposed to multiple day’s worth every week. And I get a few groceries out of it. No mowing every week for me. I hated it as a kid living in a house plopped in the middle of a half-acre lawn, and a weekend lake cottage with a big lawn. Seems like every weekend was spent mowing — started on Fridays and ended on Sundays. Some find it their form of relaxing, I get that. But I lump grass/lawn maintenance with root canals.

    Slight correction: Garden Walk Buffalo has 355 gardens!

    • You are so right. I am envious of your gorgeous house and garden. Did the bunny ever leave? Sorry about the misprint of 335. I got that number from some info I got this summer. Your yard is so well designed with different rooms and gardens, all in a relatively small space. I just love your potager. I am amazed your rose standard makes it through the winter. I bring in my three in December.

      • The bunnies are there year round. In the evenings you can walk up the street and see bunnies using he sidewalk. This is new in the last couple years. I expect it to only get worse. The rose standard is “Polar Joy” and is winter-hardy, unlike me. I bought it at Lockwood’s Greenhouses in Hamburg. It’s four years old.

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