We never really discussed the matter, but both my husband and I knew one of the first projects we’d tackle after buying our home in 2005 was the removal of the front lawn. What a waste of space…
|Our house before it was ours, May of 2005|
Since we moved at the end of June, and that first summer was pretty crazy just getting settled, we didn't act until the rains let up the following spring. Come a dry day in March every bit of the sod was removed, including the parking strip. I’ll admit that once it was done and I stood there looking at all that empty space I was a little intimidated, so much possibility…of course the plant lover in me was also very excited.
|Lawn gone! March 2006|
Front lawns are such an automatic default, even in “anything goes” Portland, Oregon, where nobody thinks it the slightest bit strange to see a front yard vegetable garden. Of course all that turf is allowed to go dormant in our dry summers, hence the descriptor “Portland Gold.” It’s so depressing to go for a walk on a lovely summer day and see blocks and blocks of crispy turf. I can quickly get myself all worked up thinking “Why don’t they want more? Why are they content with ugly dead grass?” But then I think back to how overwhelming it was for me, faced with that big public opportunity to fail, and it’s no wonder most people stick with the “easiest” answer…lawn. Which is why I wish I could place a copy of Pam Penick’s book “Lawn Gone! Low-maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard” in every one of my neighbors hands, she breaks the process down and gives the reader everything they need to know to be successful.
|Our "lawn free" front yard, July of 2012|
If you read Pam’s blog Digging you already know how approachable her writing style is, you feel like you’re reading a letter from an old friend; thankfully that voice carries through to her book. Plus having torn up a couple of her own lawns, as well as a few in gardens she designs for her clients, Pam really knows what she’s talking about. If she doesn't, like when it comes to recommending plants for parts of the country she’s not familiar with, then she seeks out the advice of others.
The book is broken into three sections, in “Part One: Beyond the Lawn” she explores the possibilities of a lawn free yard and gives you alternatives for all that empty space. She also uses her design experience to point out important elements like paths and seating options. Part two “Out with the Grass, In with a Garden” looks at the facts…pros, cons and how-to’s as well as the important considerations of installing hardscape and planting preparation. In “Part Three: The Politics, Health and Safety of Going Lawnless” she deals with all sorts of practicalities I didn't even have to consider when we tackled our project like HOA’s (homeowner associations), city codes and yes, even the dreaded skeptical neighbors. At the end of the book she wraps it all up with regional plant recommendations and resources complete with an additional reading list.
I think I’m most appreciative that Pam isn't adamant about getting rid of every bit of lawn, she recognizes there is a place for a smaller patch of turf and writes about that in Chapter 7 “Downsizing the Lawn.” I've had many people scoff at the fact I still have bit of lawn in my back garden but I love that little patch of green, it serves a purpose as Pam points out when she writes...“In such a jam-packed plant lover’s garden as this, a simple patch of lawn can be an asset in setting off the varying textures and colors of surrounding beds.”
|Our back garden, spring of 2013|
Which brings me to something I’m admittedly pretty proud of; Pam included photos of my garden and patio in her book! When she visited back in July of 2011 she snapped several photos which turned up on her blog, and now in her book…it’s enough to make a gardener blush!
Okay so enough of my rambling about Pam’s fabulous book (check out her book page for more), what about that party I mentioned in the title? Well in true Pam fashion she’s making her book party all about giving to others…there are 7 amazing giveaways, all with cool lawn alternative themed prizes! I am beyond thrilled to be celebrating with Pam by giving away a $50 gift card from Plant Delights Nursery! Ya…you read that right fifty bucks to spend at Plant Delights…
“a mail-order nursery that’s a plant lover’s dream. Since 1988, Plant Delights Nursery has been the choice of serious gardeners and plant collectors looking for the best and rarest perennial plants. They have an enticing selection of groundcovers, ornamental grasses, and small perennials, all of which make excellent substitutes for lawn grass.”
|Photo credit: Plant Delights. A new 2013 offering is Carex oshimensis 'Everillo'|
Just leave a comment below before 11:59 pm Pacific Time on Sunday, March 10 be entered to win, I’ll announce the winner on Monday, March 11. Because of mailing issues you must reside in the continental U.S. to enter. Of course all comments will be entered but I’d love to hear about your lawn…are you thinking of replacing it? Already have? What did your neighbors say?
Oh and what else can you win? Here’s the list (visit these blogs and comment for a chance to win)…
- Meems at Hoe & Shovel is giving away a cool Moss Rock in a medium/Cobble size and Toadstool color.
- Rebecca Sweet of Gossip in the Garden is giving away a 5-lb. bag of Eco-Lawn seed, from Wildflower Farm in Ontario, Canada.
- Dee Nash at Red Dirt Ramblings is giving away a fantastic tool package from CobraHead: a CobraHead Weeder and Cultivator, a CobraHead Long Handle Weeder and Cultivator, and a set of 15 BioMarker weatherproof plant markers.
- Genevieve Schmidt at North Coast Gardening is giving away a $50 gift certificate to none other than Annie’s Annuals!
- Benjamin Vogt at The Deep Middle is giving away a 5-lb. bag of No Mow Lawn seed mix from Prairie Nursery.
- At Digging, Pam herself is giving away "the only patch of lawn you may ever need" – a tongue-in-cheek, 13x13-inch “grass” pillow from Potted in L.A. (you know, the circle pot people!)