Lawnless Front Yard #12

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This nearby home was converted to the lawn free look this past week.  It caught my attention before the conversion, because the landscaping consisted of the lawn, a clump of three birches in one corner, a huge, thriving native Romneya coulteri, and nothing else.  The lawn was removed, the birches left untouched, and the Romneya was split into to pieces and replanted.  For some reason known only to the landscaper, a meandering DG path diagonally across the area crosses a meandering dry streambed via a dinky little wooden bridge.  Dry stream beds seemed popular in early lawn free designs; now not as much.  Perhaps a There's-a-drainage-problem-so-we-really-had-to-get-rid-of-the-lawn-and-add-a-streambed idea helped with neighborly relations back when the lawn free style first appeared.  Now it seems a little quaint and possibly unnecessary.  Or they had a lot of rocks.  Or there was a drainage problem.
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A Lagerrstroemia behind a Salvia--greggii, maybe:
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Stream bed of imported river rocks and DG path.
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A Penstemon, a dripper, and a rock in the hell strip:
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The existing Birch trees were left as is:
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There are a couple of mounds rising abruptly from level ground.  A little too abruptly.  I think that's a manzanita on the mound. 
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The tree is a...native elderberry?  Not sure. 
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I think the plantings are incomplete.  It does look a little blank, even for a newly planted area of California natives.  I will check back and see if more plants go in next week. 

Comments

  1. I agree it is blank, as well as too scattered. Budget may be an issue with such things (only enough for 1/4 the plants we need, so let's get one of everything...). Those birches and elders are not the lowest water-use plants, so why not mass in some deergrass to unify them and the front of that DG walkway?

    Keep us updated, but this looks it is going the way of many lawnless conversions.

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  2. Hoov, lawns are so much easier than designing this front yard space without one -- esp. since these spaces were built by the contractor for lawn and not for landscape. Takes a sensitive touch. I'm assuming this is a DIY. Once you start adding bridges and lots of plants and such, the scale seems off. It'll take time to refine the lawnless approach. I'm seeing lots of these examples around town too, always with those mounds! Just the clumps of romneya rising out of d.g. with some bunch grasses for summer would be beautiful. More is not necessarily better, a lesson I need to relearn constantly. It always seems churlish to critique such well-intended efforts but it's how we learn, right?

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  3. @Desert, the birches are crazy thirsty here, the native Sambucus can go without much. It actually doesn't look that bad in person, mostly I'm puzzled by the riverbed and little bridge. They mulched lavishly, which always makes things better.

    @Denise, I'm proud of them for trying, really. Perhaps they will work on it and get it right eventually. I wonder if the mounds are a side effect of hearing over and over again that natives must have good drainage, and assuming one's drainage is poor, when it might not be.

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  4. I wonder if there's any dead bodies under those berms? and what is the load capacities on the bridge. If you ask me the design is poor but the intent was good.

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  5. I appreciate Denise's comment and wish I could be so kind...but I just don't get the bridges!!! Never have,never will.

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  6. I love dry streambeds and bridges. My front yard has both (for drainage, heh heh). What I find puzzling is the scale. Bridges should be at least four feet wide so that a person does not feel like they will fall off. And teeny little handrails for elves don't work well- they are just a trip hazard.
    Mexican Elderberries are a big favorite of mine, they grow without any care at all and beautify empty lots. They do get huge, though, so I worry for these folks.

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