Changing the front lawn into a garden

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Our first rock and a branch we were thinking of using
Our first rock and a branch we were thinking of using | Source
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Showing dry creek bed, Lavender, Rosemary, and Alyssum.
Showing dry creek bed, Lavender, Rosemary, and Alyssum. | Source
In the background you can see we are changing the sidewalk strip.
In the background you can see we are changing the sidewalk strip. | Source
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Drought tolerent garden

A few years ago California was having a severe drought. I hate droughts. All that conserving water is a pain. The price for living in California. Gary, my husband of 30 years, and I decided to change our front lawn into a garden that was more drought tolerant, and also less maintenance, much less maintenance.

We began in October by planning our new garden. We decided to put in dry creek beds, and mounds to give the new garden a kind of rolling hill design in miniature. We wanted the new garden to have a natural look.

Once we dug out our creek beds and built the mounds, it was now November, we covered the remaining grass with straw from hay bales people had put on the street for pick up after Halloween. We are very thankful we own a truck. Very useful for crazy projects like this. That was followed by a layer of newsprint, than weed cloth. The layers are to kill off the grass with out digging it up. Digging up the grass is a lot of work, and bad for the environment. As we were trying to build a garden that is more friendly to the environment, digging it up was not a option, nor was killing the grass with chemicals. The grass, straw and newsprint, all breaks down and feeds the soil. This was followed by mulch, than large and small rocks to create our creek beds and give the garden interest. We used black and natural colored wood mulch to give the garden more depth of color and the natural look we were going for. Lastly we added the plants.

The plants are all drought tolerant, but not native. The only native nursery close by has a lousy selection of plants, that look near death. Very sad really. We went with a more Mediterranean garden. California and the Mediterranean have similar climates. The plants we used where Lavender, Rosemary, both upright and creeping, Alyssum, white and multi colored, (one of my very favorite plants that smells great), and white and lavender Bacopa, a lovely plant that can be used as a ground cover, or in pots. This year we added California poppies. We thought the garden needed a pop of bright color. Drove us crazy trying to find them. You would think the Native nursery would have. Nope, we found them at a national nursery. Go figure. Only two 6 packs where left too.

When we finished, we have a very low maintenance garden that we think has much more interest to it than lawn. So do our neighbors. Several more gardens have appeared since we built ours. Most were done by professinals. Not all of our neighbors are do it ourselfers like us. The first year required regular watering while the plants became established. We also need to weed it on occasion, even with weed cloth, the weeds find away in. This year we expect to water much less than last year.

I've attached pictures showing the progression of the garden. We love it. Hope it gives you ideas.

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Comments 4 comments

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 5 years ago from USA

You were really creative and this looks much nicer than the lawn. Good job.


Joan Casey 5 years ago

I tore out our lawn by hand. It was a pain. Replaced it with a blooming purple ice plant which was beautiful. I wonder why so many have lawns - out own little patch of green?


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada

Wow, this is very attractive! I bet you get a lot of compliments on this front lawn!


Carol Petretti profile image

Carol Petretti 5 years ago from California Author

Thank you, we do. One neighbor stops by and asks what we will do next. I'm thinking. My husband is worried. :)

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