Is Getting Rid of Your Lawn the Hot New Trend?

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I have the tendency to meander through a neighborhood, looking at houses, when I complete a home inspection. Maybe I am seeing the beginning of a trend.

My wife stares down the street, stating that many people are letting their grass die. I point out that it is not only grass. A garden shows how people feel about their homes, and the water restrictions have made some of those feelings more clear. She wonders how people can simply let what they have go to dust. My wife enjoys gardens, but she is not a gardener. She believes that homes should be maintained, so that is the origin of her concern. For me, a garden should reflect something of the character of the homeowners, and the yard around your home should make you enjoy being in that space. When I see a yard of grass with a few shrubs against the home, I think boring and standard. However, I have noticed a few changes happening to homes in neighborhoods where I often drive: grass is being taken out to be replaced by landscaping.

    On the most frequently traveled street in my own neighborhood, I was surprised to see a large gardening project. During a time of water restrictions, I have been careful with new plant additions, and I had not thought that many people would see this as the time to renew their own gardens. Most of the grass had been ripped out, and large berms of dirt were moved into the yard. A few anchor plants which do well in our area once established made the basis of the yard. Then pots of annuals were located in different locations. The landscaping included large stones for dramatic effect. I like the idea behind the new design, but I do have a problem with the berms. Placing plants at the top of the berms means that they will have water drain quickly from their roots. This may not be a problem for some plants, but this scenario could lead to the plants requiring more water till established. The idea of pots was great to me. The pot itself provided interest, and you could change out the plantings to fit the season. I wonder what the backyard is like.
    A simple mulched area with an accent planting or a grouping of containers does look better than a dead lawn. After seeing this garden remodel, I observed that more homeowners are using pots as focal points. In one neighborhood that I frequent, the homeowner placed containers along the edge of his property to draw your eye away from the brown grass. He was also working on something strange around the base of his trees ( a pile of rocks). This is not what I would do, but the containers did refocus your concentration. My theory is that when you have one person in the neighborhood starting something, you will find imitators spreading out from that initial point, so I drove through the neighborhood. I found that there were several container gardening projects beginning in front yards. More people were opting to remove grass to create something more pleasant. I do not see them adding vegetables to their landscaping though.
    I walk past this home every day that I take my daughter to school. The house looks like a junkyard. The owner is more concerned with griping at the parents of the school children than the care of his home (does he think that the state of his home is the fault of others?). Across the street is a house that has been for sale for some time. The house does not look interesting, and then I would have to look at the neighbors. This made me consider what I might do if selling the home: landscaping to the rescue. I think that buyers would prefer to see well landscaped yards rather than brown grass. You could put down a weed barrier, then spread mulch over the barrier. This spot could be done with wonderful curves. A little grass could be left in place. I could add a few perennial plants that flower (or have interesting leaves) for focal points. That may help the home sell.
    Container gardening can be quite creative. The adding of containers for special plants is a fun way to improve the garden, and this can be the means to lower your watering needs by developing spaces that are mulched instead of covered by grass.

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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