Lawn Gone

By Susan Littlefield

If you've been thinking about making your landscape more sustainable by reducing the size of your lawn or eliminating it altogether, but are unsure where to start, turn to Lawn Gone! Low Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard by Pam Penick (Ten Speed Press, 2013, $19.99) for inspiration and detailed advice. A landscape designer and photographer, author Penick tells how to create appealing and functional landscapes with little or no water-, fertilizer-, pesticide-, and maintenance-hungry conventional turf. Instead, with clear text and ample photographs, she describes how to use suitable plantings and well-designed hardscapes to craft beautiful, easy to care for, environmentally friendly outdoor spaces that can include such amenities as water features, play areas, and spaces designed for quite contemplation.

Often, one of the biggest challenges in going to little or no lawn is how to get rid of the existing sod without breaking your back. From digging it up to using a power-operated sod cutter to solarizing or using sheet mulch to killing it with herbicide, Penick gives the pros and cons of each method, as well what you'll need and how to do it. Then she follows with basic information on designing and installing unplanted areas, such as paths, patios, decks, and water features, and preparing and planting garden beds.

She also deals with the sometimes thorny political, social, and health and safety issues of going lawnless in chapters that cover contending with unenlightened city codes and homeowner association regulations; working with skeptical neighbors; ways to reduce problems with ticks, deer, and other unwelcome fauna; and designing fire-resistant plantings in areas where wildfire is a common threat.

Whether you are starting from scratch designing a new eco-friendly landscape or renovating an existing one for greater sustainability and lower maintenance, Lawn Gone! will be a valuable resource no matter where in the country you garden.

For more information on Lawn Gone!, go to Random House.

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