Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The American Front Lawn

When it comes to suburban garden design, I've always been puzzled by the uniformity (isn't this the land of individuals?) and lack of imagination (isn't this the land where everything is possible?). Yesterday's post in Apartment Theory explains the American front lawn culture and I realized that my garden ideals are still firmly rooted in the Old World.

Our house came with manicured bushes, lots of lawn and flowerbeds for annuals. Since my dream garden is part nature, part English cottage garden and part fairy tale, there was a lot to be done. Among others, I've dug up quite a bit of lawn, both back and front, during the 3 1/2 summers we've spent here.

Small patch of strawberries, lettuce
and zucchini, July 2009.
Home grown strawberry cake - can
it get any better? "Och mitt i tårtan
skall namnskylten stå" (from Maja's
alphabet songs) 
Strawberry patch gone wild, 2011
The back yard strawberry patch is great! I love to give my kids the experience of gracing sun warmed berries straight from the patch. We haven't taken care of it very well, so we need to dig up all the plants and spread them out before winter. It started with 6 little plants two summers ago and they multiply faster than bunnies, so we've dug up a bit more lawn every year. This year we had enough berries for a birthday cake!

Narrow strips of lawn between driveway/walkways and flowerbeds are all gone :) The grass grew over the driveway and into the flowerbed, so it was a lot of work and it wasn't really pretty either.

Before - Silly strip of lawn between walk way and flower bed, May 2009
After - Lilies and other perennials now fill the entire space
between the house and walkway. 

Before - Another silly strip of lawn, this one is in the back,
between driveway and a flowerbed, July 2009
After - More space for perennials instead of the
high maintenance strip of lawn.

Can a front lawn get more boring than this? April 2010,
just after one of the maple trees had to be taken down.
The front lawn is still far too big for my taste, but with huge maple trees along the street, we end up with maple saplings everywhere. Those that grow in the lawn disappear after mowing a couple of times. However, with ground covering plants, the saplings need to be pulled up one by one. The ideal would of course be to remove all the maple seeds in the fall, but 
1) we never manage in time before it gets too cold, 
2) fallen leaves and wilted perennials make a great winter blanket for the perennials. So far, all our perennials have survived some cold winters very well. Unfortunately, with maple leaves come the seeds  and they grow fast during early spring.

For now, I feel pretty stuck with my large front lawn. As long as I haven't found a manageable solution to the maple saplings, I'll keep digging up the back yard lawn instead...