Sunday, November 2, 2014

Plastic Grass or a Tree?

 The other night it was so refreshing to wake up and hear the sound of rain! Walking through the gardens after a rainfall is something I can barely remember since it has been at least seven months since we have had a drop. We didn't get much but it was enough to wash the dust off everything and you could almost hear the plants giving a sigh or relief, however so slight. But now the weather report is showing another heat wave coming this week with temperatures reaching the eighties again. So much for getting out the sweaters!

 Last week I was someplace and I overheard a conversation between two young couples discussing how they were coping with their yards and their concerns over their landscaping and the drought. One was talking about how they were looking at synthetic lawns and the other mentioned that they had just let their yard "go" and would wait and see what happened. I can only imagine how hard it is for the average homeowner to know what is the right thing to do, both from an ecological point as well as an economic point but just as important from an aesthetic point of view. A landscape is a large part of what adds value to a home as well as value to the way a home is enjoyed by a family.

If I had to suggest to someone what to do to add value to their landscape in this day and age when trying to reduce the lawn and water use is to plant trees. I must admit I love to plant trees and in my lifetime I have probably cut down more trees that I have planted than most people have ever planted, but that's okay. Just plant trees is my motto! The more the merrier. You can always cut them down later! Once established the right tree will live just fine without you and as long as you don't live where you block people's view, they can grow without needing much pruning (although I have put many of my tree trimmers children through college, but that's okay). They never need fertilizing and they give back much more than they take. 

I see people struggling with trying to remove lawns and put in something that will be attractive when I think, just look for a tree (or two or three or five) that will do the job, put them in and be patient. Trees do take some patience, waiting for them to grow, unless you have access to the space and enough money to put in a full grown specimen, but I like to plant babies and watch them mature myself. The right tree requires no pesticides, provides food and homes for the wildlife, adds all kinds of good stuff to the environment to offset your carbon footprint and cools the air and soil around it. Just do some research and pick out a yard partner for the next 25 or 30 years.

These pictures show what our back yard looked like in 2006 when we moved in and what it looks like now. I planted three California pepper trees from 25 gallon pots, a liquidambar, and an arbutus tree. The boxwood hedges and perennials are reminiscent from the gardens that I put in for interest while the trees grew to size, but at this point I could remove everything else in this yard, put down a lovely, crunchy pea gravel and never water again.  If not gravel than at least a red fescue that would take some water to become established, but then only occasionally during the summer require watering and let it go un-mown giving it a lovely meadow feeling. Add a few hammocks and we would probably be out there all summer long under the shade trees. I still haven't made up my mind yet.

No comments: