I’m spending Earth Day getting my hands dirty. I started yesterday, since there is always a lot to do this time of year. After dispatching every last weed in the garden, I got busy staking the tomatoes I didn’t plant and harvesting the potatoes from the compost pile. I didn’t plant the potatoes either.
So far it’s been an interesting spring in the garden. We’ve stopped watering pretty much everything. This is year four of the California drought, prompting Governor Brown to issue mandatory, 25% state-wide water restrictions. Later this week I’m meeting with a landscape designer to draw up alternative plans to replace our lawn.
In this semi-arid state, we have no business planting lawns in the first place. It’s an old tradition, imported from the lush gardens of England and Europe where water is plentiful. Somehow it became a status symbol and then the status quo. Those days are over.
I’ve been contemplating several ideas but I seem to lack the overall vision of what a replacement will look like. It will be nice to meet with J.P. who designed our beautiful front ramp and deck in 2010 and the circular patio out back.
Two years ago we removed the grassy sidewalk strip and replaced it with a flower garden. The sidewalk garden uses less water while attracting beneficial insects. I think it’s much prettier, too. We should have done it years ago.
Yesterday I gathered all of my stored seeds including my much-loved sunflowers and planted them in the curb garden. There they will grow or perish. They’ll have to get by with the water available to that narrow strip.
Late last year Garden Sunshine blogged about her sheet mulching project and I knew immediately that I wanted to do the same thing. I drew a mental line down the center of the lawn in our back garden, then sheet mulched half of it. The area is still composting, but I achieved the desired effect: that section of the lawn is gone. Slowly, gradually, our water-thirsty suburban grass is going away.
I’ll let you know how the consult goes.
Here are my goals:
- Reduce the amount of water needed to maintain the garden by half. Since 50% of residential water use goes to irrigation, cutting that use in half means we’ll achieve a 25% reduction overall.
- Create a small seating area for my swing under the shade of the orange tree. We used to have the swing under the tree, but it rested on the lawn. We had to remember to move it every two or three days, or deal with a soggy swing. No grass, no problem. My future, summer afternoon napping place is secure.
- Share the process and what I learn along the way with others via my blog, Facebook, Twitter and email.
Please let me know if you take the Earth Day quiz, below. I only scored five out of ten but was happy to know I beat the average score of four.
- Planet Natural: The Lowdown on Lawn History
- New York Times: California Imposes First Mandatory Water Restrictions to Deal With Drought
- The Guardian: Earth Day Quiz