Lawn-less Sustainable Garden (continued)

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Burned out lawn
St. Augustine is being overtaken by oxalis in the burned out front lawn.

We are making big changes to our yard. As you may remember from earlier posts, I was not happy with the burned out lawn in the front yard. Years of drought left much of the  lawn brown. With city water restrictions, I watered for the large deodar cedar – deeply and infrequently – allowing the lawn to die back.

Weeds invade weak lawns

weedy oxalis
Weedy oxalis invading the lawn

This winter I noticed weedy oxalis moving in. This is one of the most difficult garden weeds to eradicate due to the underground bulbs and its habit of intertwining itself with plants you want to preserve. I dug out every bit of oxalis I could find and moved ahead with more urgency on this new project.

So the time has come to finally part ways with the emerald green St. Augustine lawn. The first step was to remove the last patch of lawn. Next, with the help of a landscape designer, we came up with a plan. Though the lawn would be absent, we did want to be able to sit in the front yard. Although we live on a busy street, we enjoy saying hi to neighbors who walk by. South Pasadena, after all, is a great city for walkers. The large deodar will shade the space and flowering native plants will surround it. How nice it will be to sit out there on a Sunday morning with a cup of coffee.

The flagstones will be laid on a bed of coarse sand so there is minimal disruption to the surface roots of the deodar. With sand between the stones, the surface will be permeable to both water and air.

Previous posts on front yard garden

Over the years I have written blog posts about the front yard and how it has grown and evolved. You can check out the following links for pictures and discussions about these changes. I am also including a slideshow with pictures of the front yard during the twenty years we have been here. I will post more pictures once the front yard patio is completed.

Front yard vegetable garden (2/1/2016)

Front yard makeover continued (11/29/2015)

Front yard plans (10/8/2015)

Create your own garden paradise (8/82015)

Tomatoes (4/25/2015)

What’s happening in Wild Suburbia (4/12/2015)

Smother it (3/6/2015)

RIP Avocado (10/5/2014)

Disappearing lawn (7/10/2013)

Life changes

My yard has changed gradually, and continues to be a work in progress. Gardens, unlike living rooms, are living systems that evolve over time. When we first moved into our house, twenty years ago, there were two large trees in the front: the cedar and an old avocado. Lawn covered most of the yard, front and back.

The biggest changes came from the loss of the avocado tree. For the first time in my gardening history, I now had full sun. Though disappointed to lose a large tree, I took the opportunity to put in a vegetable garden that has given me great pleasure, a chance to grow food with my grandkids, and some truly delicious meals. Gardens are alive. Things die and other things grow bigger than expected. It is this unpredictability that makes them challenging and fun.