In the wake of California’s epic drought, more and more homeowners are replacing their thirsty front lawns with less wasteful alternatives. Most projects entail the removal of all turf. But just because that’s common sense doesn’t mean everybody has to subscribe it.
My wife recently spotted a front lawn project in an adjacent neighborhood that is very different from what we typically see in Davis. On Saturday I finally had a chance to check it out myself.
What do you think?
Love it or leave it?
Instead of removing all the lawn, this design keeps about 1/2 of it and confines it to two triangular areas bordered by foot-high sections of steel. The central section is filled with blue-gray gravel and features two redbud (Cercis occidentalis) trained as standards.
The area closest to the sidewalk is now a wide planting strip featuring more redbud as well as groundcover manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp.). The top dressing is standard gold-colored decomposed granite (DG).
Presumably in an effort to add an ornamental touch, the steel dividers are engraved with a squiggly line that might represent the Sierra Nevada mountains or ocean waves—or maybe just a squiggly line.
Clearly this front yard isn’t just a random creation. It’s the result of intentional design and careful planning. Somebody thought this was a good solution for this space. And somebody else gave the green light.
What do I think of it? I’m so confused, I don’t even know. It find the overall design bizarre in a strangely intriguing way. While the dividers look to be made of regular soft steel instead of the much more expensive CORTEN, they’re still a pricey element. They’re arranged in a pattern that resembles stylized sunrays, but they look tortured. Why are they there?
What purpose does the remaining grass serve? Were the sprinklers moved to accommodate these idiosyncratic shapes? Coincidentally, how do you mow the grass, especially in the corners where the dividers converge?
And what are those squiggly lines?
I’m baffled by it all. Maybe instead of “Love it leave it?,” I should ask: “What were they thinking?”