After several devastating years of drought, almost all of my clients are taking out some, if not all, of their lawn to save water. Folks are catching on that front lawns serve very little purpose other than to create a soothing rest for the eye (green is a very pleasant color to look at, I admit). Since front yard grass is considered “ornamental” (i.e., it is normally not used for any purpose than to look good), the front yard is the place to start with reducing the amount of grass we have on our properties.
The following are some projects we have done recently which I hope will give you some ideas in what could be done in your yard to replace grass.
CREATE A SEATING AREA OR COURTYARD:
I am seeing a wonderful new movement occur in our society: Folks are moving into their yards in a classic way: sitting on their front “porches” again. This is great because it enables us to get friendly with our neighbors again. In these trying times it’s a support for us to have neighbors.
Although many of us do not have porches per se, we can create a similar effect by various methods.
Idea 1: Replacing Lawn with a Seat Wall Courtyard and Walkway
In this Stanford Ranch yard, we took out all of the grass and put in a new walkway coming up from the street. We created a courtyard by adding a seat wall with three columns with lights atop.
The courtyard is intimate, yet passersby get a welcoming feel, and sometimes stop to chat with the Homeowners. Small decorative rock breaks up the bark. Notice that we did not worry about matching to the brick; instead, we found a manufactured stone that complements it.
Idea 2: Replacing Lawn with a Fenced Courtyard Overlooking a Dry Stream Bed
Again, we took all of the grass out of this front yard. Often we see that the grass wasn’t really doing anything for the yard anyway!
This time our courtyard was created by using wood railing, a little more private now. Notice how we create the feeling of roundness in the wood, although all of the pieces are straight. See Project 3 below for how a water feature was also added to this yard to create interest in the courtyard.
A note of caution: when removing grass from around an old established tree that is used to receiving lots of water, consult with your Landscaper to make sure the tree gets adequate water with its new watering regime. Expect the tree to go through an adaptation stage.
Idea 3: Create a new outdoor living space with a wood panel, pots, furniture, and fire pit
We deleted all of the lawn and created a small seating area on the way to the front door. Furniture with orchid cushions were added, along with a fire pit and complementary pots. The wood panel behind it all, though, is the coup de grace, creating a sense of enclosure for an inexpensive price tag. We “borrowed” the plantings of the neighbor (whose yard we actually renovated first) to make the yards look bigger and harmonious. Most of the plantings are drought tolerant and pollinator attracting to boot! Throw in the fact that several are native plants, and you have quite a environmentally conscious new yard!