Grass Isn't Really Greener

Now that things are in bloom, I'm back to noticing the amazing grassless lawns in my neighborhood. People mix edibles, ground cover, perennials, shrubs, trees, and stone to create front lawn without the merest speck of a blade of grass. I heard somewhere, and it makes good sense to me, that grassless yards are much cheaper and environmentally friendly. I'm not in the market to buy any new books right now, having 5 out of the library and 5 chapbooks just arrived in the mail yesterday, but someday, I may consider these titles:

Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden And Your Neighborhood into a Community This one sounds the most subversive and belligerent in the fight against grass. (I hope H C Flores, the author, isn't into golf. From what I can tell, golf courses take their turfgrass composition very seriously.) Anyway, excerpted review says: For activist readers who believe activism is a political pursuit, FOOD NOT LAWNS: HOW TO TURN YOUR YARD INTO A GARDEN AND YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD INTO A COMMUNITY offers a different viewpoint, maintaining that growing food where you live is a key method of becoming a food activist in the community

Front yard gardens: Growing More than Grass -- from Booklist: Alternatives to the traditional lawn effectively cut down on water usage and may also play host to beneficial insects and birds. Once the desire to do away with grass takes root, readers can turn to Primeau for help in rejuvenating a front yard so that flowers, foliage textures, and hardscaping come together in inviting swaths to both beautify and benefit the environment.

Getting Started In Permaculture: 50 Practical Projects to Build and Design Productive Gardens -- excerpted review: Permaculture is based on the ethics of caring for people and our planet. It is about growing your own healthy food, being resourceful and environmentally responsible. Permaculture concepts and ideas can be applied successfully from small suburban units to large farming properties....Getting Started in Permaculture delivers step-by-step knowledge for a variety of useful projects including: making herb fertilizers, compost, organic sprays for pest control, and much, much more. It also includes how to recycle your soft drink bottles, waste paper, and tires in a number of useful projects such as ponds, fruit fly traps, retailing walls, and solar stills.

The Urban Homestead (Expanded & Revised Edition): Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City -- excerpted description: This celebrated, essential handbook shows how to grow and preserve your own food, clean your house without toxins, raise chickens, gain energy independence, and more. Step-by-step projects, tips, and anecdotes will help get you started homesteading immediately.The Urban Homesteadis also a guidebook to the larger movement and will point you to the best books and Internet resources on self-sufficiency topics.

The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming -- excerpted description (this sounds more like a manifesto than a guidebook) Call it “Zen and the Art of Farming” or a “Little Green Book,” Masanobu Fukuoka’s manifesto about farming, eating, and the limits of human knowledge presents a radical challenge to the global systems we rely on for our food. At the same time, it is a spiritual memoir of a man whose innovative system of cultivating the earth reflects a deep faith in the wholeness and balance of the natural world. As Wendell Berry writes in his preface, the book “is valuable to us because it is at once practical and philosophical. It is an inspiring, necessary book about agriculture because it is not just about agriculture.”

Gaia's Garden, Second Edition: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture -- Many people mistakenly think that ecological gardening which involves growing a wide range of edible and other useful plants can take place only on a large, multiacre scale. As Hemenway demonstrates, it's fun and easy to create a backyard ecosystem by assembling communities of plants that can work cooperatively and perform a variety of functions, including:
  • Building and maintaining soil fertility and structure
  • Catching and conserving water in the landscape
  • Providing habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and animals
  • Growing an edible forest that yields seasonal fruits, nuts, and other foods