Rethink Your Front Yard

Ilona Erwin

It is almost September, and in my neck of the woods that means time for lawn chores …like seeding, feeding, and chemical weeding. If lawns look very bad after this summer’s drought, some might say you should start from scratch.

Let’s look at that idea, but with a different perspective.

Are You Ready For a Brand New Thing?

Are you? Not everyone is, but you don’t have to fully commit to changing your front yard into something you aren’t sure works for you. At the moment, just imagine what your yard would look like with some of the lawn alternatives suggested in this post.

  • How you can save time and money that now goes into keeping up appearances in a manner that belongs to the “Leave It to Beaver” age.
  • Additionally,making  some changes that can be environmentally beneficial.
  • Gaining use of space that could put fresh food onto your table

Beginning from the least to the most drastic of changes, consider ways to rethink your front yard.

How About That Dead Look In August?

Some of the most pampered lawns look awful in an Ohio August. They don’t have any weeds in sight, but they are dull, straw-like, tan expanses. If watered they have sparse patches that try to look green. All that money for all that ugliness.

Rethinking may include adding Dutch clover (Trifolium repens) to the mix and doing without chemical weed killers.
Pluses Of Clover:

  • Fixes nitrogen (that produces the green of grass)
  • Deep roots make it drought tolerant
  • Pets that pee? No problem- it’s resistant to that. Grass gets brown spots.
  • Better for poor soils. Fills in.

Outsidepride White Dutch Clover Seed: Nitro-Coated, Inoculated – 5 LBS

Another consideration could be reducing the amount of grass: add some planted areas with low shrubs and a few ornamental trees, perhaps more groundcover.

Making Meadows

garden project

New prairie plot, it eventually reached to the tree and large shrubs on the left.

A low maintenance (not no-maintenance) solution to time, energy, and money consuming lawn is a natural garden. It takes a bit of work to get started, but you can begin with a small area and work out from there if you like the effect.

I did this a few years ago. Even with my level of neglect (necessary, not planned), the results pleased me with the way Echinacea, and Butterfly Weed took hold. They bring some pretty color to this natural area of the yard.

More On Meadows

Are You Ready To Make that Front Yard Produce?

Front yard vegetable gardens, when kept neat and attractive can be an outstanding way to grow fruits and vegetables. While taking a walk through the Chicago suburb of Evanston some years ago, I took photos of some beautiful examples of front yard vegatable gardens.

front yard food gardens

Beautiful, edible garden space out front

It doesn’t need to be the entire expanse of grass that goes into kitchen herbs and salads. Just a few well kept beds can begin to turn that public space into a conversation starter and palate pleaser.

How To Make The Neighbors Happy

When the status quo is challenged sometimes it is hard for people to adjust their expectations. But when it comes to digging up the entire front yard and replacing it with something unexpected like vegetable gardens or prairie restoration, there are bound to be some protest and grumbling.

A few shared tomatoes or cucumbers and zucchini goes a long way to mending fences. Be sure you keep things neat and tidy when placing the vegetable patch front and center.

And to be fair, a yard left to itself, uncared for and weed infested is nobody’s idea of either a garden or a good neighbor. There are reasons for rules of tending the yard.

So, what are some ways to keep the peace and grow less lawn yet retain curb appeal?

  • Keep verges and areas mown to meld with other properties and avoid spilling onto public spaces like sidewalks.
  • Keep it cultivated and weeded.
  • Use raised beds and retaining walls or borders.
  • Consider giving some space to lawn, while using some for your food garden or meadow.
  • Apply design concepts just as in any other sort of garden.
  • Perhaps contain these uncommon uses of front yard space with good looking shrubs and evergreens.

Are you ready to rethink the public parts of your property, making them more environmentally friendly?

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.