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Front Yard Landscaping Options

Our front yard is mostly grass. Here’s a reminder:

Green Yard

That’s from a few months ago. It’s a little more uniformly green now, but otherwise it’s pretty much unchanged. It’s a pretty small yard though, so pretty much all I do with it is cut across it at the end of my daily walk. Oh and I have to water and mow it every week. There’s plenty of grass in the back yard for playing bocce and rolling around and whatnot, so I’m leaning towards getting rid of the front yard grass entirely and replacing it with something that’s hopefully low maintenance, especially when it comes to water needs.

Pretty much all of the homes in my greater neighborhood area are similarly sized with fairly small front yards, so on my daily walks I get a pretty broad view of the potential options for us. A LOT of homes still have grass in front, but here are a few of the common non-grass options that I see.

ice plant

This is an all-succulent ground cover. I believe this one is an ice plant, or at least something similar. I feel like this is probably the most ecologically responsible solution for our area if you really, really want a lot of “green”. I don’t think you’d want to walk on this at all though, so it’s pretty much just keeping the weeds at bay and keeping things green-looking. Also, to me kinda looks like an alien invasion or something.

turf

Some people go with just a small amount of grass with rocks or mulch around it. This lawn is somewhat amusing to me because in this case it’s not even real grass, it’s artificial turf. It certainly saves on the watering and mowing! But it’s not like there’s enough of it to kick a soccer ball around or anything, so I guess it’s just once again the attachment to having a green flat space in front of your house. Not for me.

hardscaping

This front “yard” is pretty much all hardscaping, and quite clean and pretty. A lot of it would be considered “patio” rather than “yard”, though there are a few plants surrounded by small rocks. My problem with the “small rocks” solution is that I see a lot of yards with weeds growing up among the rocks, and it seems like it would be frustrating to keep the weeds at bay without using some sort of herbicide. And while quite a few of our immediate neighbors have converted at least part of their front yards into areas for entertaining, (with seating and such) I don’t really see us going that route.

citrus and roses

This is a nice functional yard. The trees are citrus (orange and lemon I believe) and right up against the fence are some rose bushes. I definitely don’t dig the chain link fence though, and I wish the citrus trees were closer to the sidewalk so I could grab some fruit while walking by. 😉 It would be nice to have some sort of tree in our front yard since our big picture window gives a nice clear view of our living room from the sidewalk, especially at nighttime. So we tend to always keep the blinds down, which pretty much negates the point of a picture window. On the flip side, our neighbors are awesome and watch out for each other, so I like that they have a clear unobstructed view of the entire front of our house in the event that a suspicious person is lurking around. So I guess that’s a “no” for the front yard trees for us. (Back yard is a whole different story!)

Daisies

This is probably my favorite yard that I’ve seen on my walks. I wish I had gotten a better picture, and I wish I had gotten it in the spring when it’s completely in bloom, but even in the middle of summer it still looks nice. I believe pretty much all of these plants are purple african daisies. I see one or two of these plants (and sometimes yellow ones)  in a lot of yards, but I love how this entire yard is filled with them. I feel like once a yard like this was established, I would hopefully just have to spread a thick layer of mulch maybe once or twice a year, and occasionally walk around and pull some weeds.

I don’t think I’m ready to start killing our grass quite yet, but I like talking through the possibilities and ruminating on what I think I’d like the best. Maybe someday we’ll actually make the change.

Finally fixed the water main leak

If you’ve been following along, you may recall that we’ve had an extra green swampy patch of grass in our front yard for a while now.

Front lawn

We checked to make sure that it wasn’t a leak in the irrigation system by shutting off water to the sprinklers for a few days. Considering that the swamp was right along a straight line between the water meter at the street and our water main valve on the side of the house, we were pretty sure it was a leak in the water main line. To confirm, we shut off the water main valve on the side of our house for a few hours and checked the water meter to see if it had moved, even though we clearly hadn’t been using any water. Yup.

Since water pressure in the house was still just fine, we ended up putting off fixing this for quite a while. That spot of grass just got to be extra lush and healthy for a few months. But we finally had a free weekend with good weather, so Dave dug a hole:

front yard hole

Well first he dug up clumps of grass and set them to one side in the hopes or replanting them when he was done. Then he made a big pile of dirt.

At first we thought we’d have to shut off the water for the digging part, but even down around the pipe things were manageable, albeit a bit muddy.

Leaking pipe

The hole revealed a join in the PVC pipe that clearly had a slow leak. So we picked up a pipe cutter and a new PVC joint that’s specifically designed as a replacement for this sort of situation, where the two ends to be joined are fixed in place.

cut pipe

Turning off the water at the meter turned out to be a bit of a pain, as apparently you’re supposed to use a specialized wrench/lever thing to do it. Oh and the entire meter was covered in slugs. Gross. Not wanting to buy a large, single-purpose wrench thing, Dave improvised with the tools we had. This didn’t quite work 100%, so there was still a slow drip, not ideal for cementing PVC pieces together.

After consulting the Internet brain trust, Dave stuffed some bread in the pipe to temporarily stop the dripping, then quickly glued everything together. Yup, the Internet said to use bread, so it must be true!

The fix

Actually, our neighbor suggested the same thing the next day as I was reporting our success to him. And then he mentioned that he owned one of those specialized wrench/lever things for turning off the water. *facepalm* I should have known, this is totally the neighbor that has every tool under the sun. Ah well.

We left the hole open over night, and the next day the dirt around the new join was looking nice and dry. So we filled in the hole and placed the grass clods back over top. We’ve been watering the area daily since then, and it looks like the grass is going to survive! I still need to mow the lawn though, so no “after” picture for you.

All in all, this ended up being just a few hours work. I was fully prepared for it to turn into a full weekend event with many, many trips to the hardware store, since that’s how our projects generally pan out. So I was pretty amazed that it ended up being a very manageable project, and we were only without water for maybe an hour. I guess occasionally we can get lucky. 🙂