Actual words used on GardenRant to talk about what people do with their front yards:
"Practically no one wants a meadow out
their front door."
"A meadow in a suburban development looks
suspiciously like a weedy, unkempt yard at an abandoned property.
Neighbors are not amused."
"Mowing requires no experience at all to
do it right. Contrast that with the largely unknown and
misunderstood methods of creating and maintaining meadows."
"I'd be shocked to see them turning to
meadows for the answer. Not in my lifetime, anyway."
with an automatic sprinkler system and a lawn crew, you can maintain a
St. Augustine grass lawn with a minimal investment in time and money.
The same cannot be said of a rain garden, a native plant garden, a
butterfly garden, a wildlife habitat, a meadow, a front-yard vegetable
garden, or any other hort-trendy theme gardens."
Now. I don't really think of my front yard as a meadow, but apparently Saxon Holt does, and that's good enough for me.
I also don't think that I have the most beautiful, perfect front yard meadow/garden/thingy in the world, but that's not the point of these photos.
The point is to show that my house is on a block that is an uninterrupted expanse of green lawn except for my little whatever-the-hell-I-feel-like-doing-with-it garden. And it's not a quarter-acre lot, it's an eighth-acre lot.
I know that there are various definitions of "meadow." One of the reasons that I would not call my front yard a meadow is that I can't be bothered to walk around with a clipboard and make sure I fit the criteria. What I do have is an assortment of ornamental grasses, chosen because they look interesting in the wind and the rain, and we get nothing but wind and rain and overcast skies from about November through April, and in between the ornamental grasses are some flowering perennials and a few self-sowing annuals. Is it a meadow or a perennial border or a mess? I don't know. I don't care.
These pulled-back photos are hardly glamor shots, but at least they let you see the garden in context. In the neighborhood. Next to the neighbors with their green mowed lawns. Who, by the way, have nothing but compliments for my garden. At least to my face, that is. Which is the same thing as having nothing but compliments, as far as I'm concerned.
Here's a bit more of a close-up. You can see that there are some weedy-looking gaps to the left. I've got some small perennials that will take a few years to fill in, but give it a little time and the left will look like the right: masses of green, orange, and red stuff, mixed with flowering stuff, so densely planted that there are no weeds to pull, ever.
This is a more carefully-chosen shot that gives you a sense of what about 75% of it looks like now, and what the whole thing will look like once the last few gaps are filled in.
Okay, so: we can all agree that this maybe isn't the textbook definition of a meadow. It's a bunch of perennial grasses, combined with flowering perennials like salvia and nepeta, along with some self-sowing annuals like California poppy and nigella. We can also agree that I don't worry much about wild animals and ticks and the truly horrible Lyme disease, although we do have our neighborhood population of skunks, raccoons, and possum, who seem to find a home anywhere, not just in my garden.
true that I don't live in the suburbs with its opinionated neighbors and
deed restrictions. I live in a mixed neighborhood of Victorians,
bungalows, and marijuana grow houses. These are the least controversial plants you'll see in Humboldt County.
And, of course, I live in an area where it never snows, so that's different, too.
But. I get no rain from June through October. None. Not a drop. Not once. No. Rain.
So here's my "unknown and misunderstood method" of caring for my whatever-it-is front garden:
1. On some decent day in the middle of winter, I go outside with pruning shears and whack down the dead flower stalks.
2. Maybe on the same day, or maybe on some other winter day, I go outside with a rake and comb through the ornamental grasses, removing the dead grass as if I'm brushing its hair (which turns out to be a deeply pleasurable task that satisfies some primal grooming instinct, sort of like combing nits out of a child's hair, something I've always wanted to do, not enough to actually have a child, but enough to think I might volunteer for the task if it ever came up.)
That's it. That's all. Now, when there are empty spaces that hold nothing but small, growing plants, those spaces must be weeded. So I do that maybe once or twice a month in summer.
When there are small, growing plants, they need water during our annual drought. So once every three or four weeks during the summer, I stand outside with a hose in one hand and a martini in the other.
But for the areas that are all filled in, I don't even do that. Repeat: I do not water. I do not weed.
Automated sprinkler system? Lawn crew? Mowing? Blowing?
You mean that's easier? Or cheaper? I've never mowed anything in my life, but I'm pretty sure it involves a big noisy piece of machinery that must get cranked up about as often as I run my washing machine. And I've never had an automated sprinkler system or a lawn crew, but that sounds like a lot of money and trouble to me.
I will suggest this: the front yard meadow is maybe not the same thing as the "we have acres of property in the country" meadow. But you can get pretty darn meadow-esque, with plants appropriate for your region, and come up with something that looks nothing like "a weedy, unkempt yard at an abandoned property" and requires far less maintenance than that machinery-and-paid-help thing you people call a front yard.
Harumph.Posted by Amy Stewart on July 7, 2010 at 6:39 am, in the category Lawn Reform.