Smart & Sustainable, Green Garden Design, Coaching & Seasonal Maintenance

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lawn-Free Garden Tour

Episode 2: "What-To-Grow-Instead-Of-A-Lawn

Last month I went on a garden tour that highlighted gardens that were river-friendly and water-wise. The tour (and park exhibit) were sponsored by a community-based group that called themselves the, Elk Grove Greener Gardens Project!

Here are some of the gardens I liked the best.

I like 3 things about this first garden. One: the dry stream bed is nicely done, curvy with some partially blocked areas. Two, the courtyard walls (although you can't see it so much here) were rounded to accomodate a tree ... so much better than a rectangle! Three: the contrasting foliage. I believe the gray-blue is a lavender, with Golden Breath of Heaven, Coleonema 'Sunset Gold', behind it. This is an important point to remember when choosing landscape materials. You can take a garden from bland to beautiful with contrast, and one of the best ways to achieve it is with foliage. Designer, Roberta Walker, did a lovely job!

Same home ... with better view of the courtyard and showing more of the "come-alive" effect of having contrasting foliage  (here, Snow-in-Summer, Cerastium tomentosum, is the star of the show with it's white mounding flowers and gray leaves). Imagine this space with a plain green lawn. Imagine it with all green shrubs. Isn't this better?

A young neighbor boy was happy to assist on tour day. Courtyards are a great trend in landscapes today ... they make use of your front "acreage" and bring life to the neighborhood.

This home also has a nice stream bed and while not a courtyard, this home also has a porch area that the homeowners enjoy. When you have an interesting front yard that invites wildlife, it's more fun to sit outside.

This homeowner loves color, and filled her yard with it. Not all of her plants are drought tolerant, but with the absence of a lawn, there's ample water to maintain these and still be under her "water budget" (a term the water providers use when calculating the combined water needs of a desirable water-wise landscape).

I got to peak at her back yard, too! Yep, more color!

One of my favorite elements of the day, this divider made of wood and copper pipe. A stylish space divider that tied in with the plantings ...

 ... a nearby Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar, Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca pendula',

and, the Blue Fescue, Festuca ovina glauca. 

Thanks to my admiration of his front yard, I was invited to take a look at his back yard. More turquoise - too charming, wouldn't you agree?

My final favorite was this garden. I like the retaining walls, but was especially fascinated with their incorporation of a rain garden behind same walls! 

A close-up of the dry-stacked wall, with a variety of water-wise plants: Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina), Shore Juniper (Juniperus conferta), Creeping Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis prostratus) and Bearberry, (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi).

And, hiding behind that wall, a water-retaining area that will absorb the run-off which will percolate into the soil and recharge our ground water system.

It was a fun day, and as these tours tend to go, you gradually get to know other garden enthusiasts!!!

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help! Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email

1 comment:

  1. Liked your post. We also downsized our front lawn.