By Peter Rovick
Stop by the front yard of one home in Wellesley, and you will notice that something is different. There are no sprinklers, and in fact, there is no grass. The front yard at my home at 12 Appleby Road, in the Wellesley Square and Dana Hall areas, consists entirely of carefully planned landscaping, consisting of trees, bushes, and other plants, including ferns.
A local landscaper from Sudbury has helped us to design and implement a low cost, low maintenance front yard that actually saves us money and helps the environment.
Which brings us to the History of Lawns in America.
“We didn't always have a love affair with our lawns,'' says this history of lawns. "In fact it wasn't until the industrial revolution that lawns became practical for most Americans. Lawns were seen as a luxury expense for only the wealthy who could afford grounds keepers to maintain the fine bladed plants using scythes. Not everyone wanted cattle or sheep grazing in the front yard to keep the green stuff at a manageable height as did Woodrow Wilson while occupying the White House.”
“It was not until the Tudor and Elizabethan times that the garden and the lawn became a place to be loved and admired,'' says a Wikipedia entry. "Created as walkways and for play areas, the lawns were not as we envisage them today….In the early 1600s the Jacobean epoch of gardening began. It was during this period that the closely-cut "English" lawn was born. By the end of this period, the English lawn was the envy of even the French; it was also seen as a symbol of status by the gentry….Toward the end of the 19th century, suburbs appeared on the American scene, along with the sprinkler, greatly improved lawn mowers, new ideas about landscaping and a shorter workweek.”
A Grass Alternative at 12 Appleby Road: The carefully planned front lawn includes a dogwood, a magnolia, and several pine trees to one side. These are complimented by rhododendrons, holly, small evergreens, and other small bushes bordering the front exterior of the house. Additional ground coverings include ivy, ferns, multiple wildflower perennials, and assorted plants. In sum, these plantings provide shade and a unique defining aesthetic quality to the front yard.
Low Maintenance: A local landscape specialist visits once each spring and autumn to prune, provide minimal amounts of fertilizer, to suggest additional landscaping options, and to help with general maintenance. In the meantime, a layer of mulch (added every two to three years) locks in moisture from the rain, which helps to prevent the need for watering and to inhibit growth of unwanted plants like dandelions.
Cost and Environmental Benefits: The yard is designed to be self-sustaining with no need for watering, though I do perform “spot-watering” for additional pumpkins and for some plants during times of severe drought – only once or twice each year. We conserve resources and help the environment by reducing our water usage and using far lesser amounts of fertilizer than are used on typical yards.
Come by for a Visit! If you are interested in considering alternative low-maintenance landscaping for your home, feel free to contact me and to visit 12 Appleby Road. You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via home phone: 781-237-8462.
Also make sure you leverage the vast resources of the Wellesley Natural Resources Commission (NRC), located on the lower level of the Wellesley Town Hall. Or visit: http://www.ci.wellesley.ma.us/Pages/WellesleyMA_NRC/index. The NRC is a partner in the Wellesley Pesticide Awareness Campaign (WPAC), and has received grants from the Toxic Use Reduction Institute (TURI).
Alternative Landscaping is just one “Win-Win” for helping the environment while reducing home expenditures. One other resource of note is The Power of One, which “brings together Wellesley residents and organizations to achieve long-term reduction in energy use and carbon footprint.”
Peter Rovick and his wife have lived in Wellesley since 2001. Peter has served both on the Wellesley Trails Committee and the Wellesley Conservation Council and has a growing interest in conservation and the environment. He is proud to give back to his local community in these capacities and to help lead by example in these efforts.
· Top 10 Tips for Low-Maintenance Landscaping: http://landscaping.about.com/od/lazylandscaping/tp/low_maintenance.htm
· Eco-Lawns - Washington State University: http://gardening.wsu.edu/library/lawn006/lawn006.htm
· Fact Sheet - Lawn Alternatives: http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s1148898.htm
· The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds: http://www.audubon.org/market/licensed/backyardgardeningbooks.html
· Groundcovers – The Other Grass: http://www.american-lawns.com/lawns/ground_covers.html