Personally, I'm not one for lawns.  I am not vehemently opposed to them or anything, but lawns need to serve a functional purpose in my landscape.  My dogs aren't about to be set loose in the front yard, and I'm not about to start a croquet match in it.  If I had kids, I doubt I would send them out front to play next to a road where people have become a bit too convinced that they are in fact excellent drivers and that children don't randomly run out in front of their cars.

I like plants, lots of them, and gardening is a high-priority hobby in my life.  I went nursery hopping in North Carolina for my honeymoon!  I would hate to lose valuable gardening real estate to a nonfunctional lawn especially when that lawn is on the southern side of the house in a region plagued by heat and drought.  Who wants to be watering and mowing in summers typified by 100F, humid weather?  That sounds like a little slice of hell to me.

So the lawn got the boot in the front yard and will be relocated to the back where it's cooler and will serve a more functional purpose.  This Instructable details planning considerations for someone wanting to tackle a project like this and how my SO and I went about doing it.  You will notice that more than half of the steps are dedicated to planning because the devil is in the details.  Our aesthetic might not be yours, and our plant selection might be completely inappropriate for your area.  However, this was a project we completed largely on our own without any considerable skills and within a somewhat modest budget.  You will have to make changes in your design according to your needs, taste, terrain, and climate, and chances are that you will be changing the design forever. 

Gardens aren't static.  Plants die.  Trends change.  You change.  Your landscape will change.  Have fun and enjoy!

Also, this wasn't a weekend project.  My SO and I have been building up to this point over the past 5 years, and it took us a couple months to complete.  It has yet to grow in just yet.

Step 1: Planning Basics

Know your soil.
Is it rocky? sandy?  largely clay?  Do you find pools of water a day after a heavy rain?
Is there lots of organic matter or practically none?  Can you find earthworms in it?
What's the pH?  What's the nutrient profile?
What have you been able to get grow in the past?

Know your sunlight.

Where's the structural shade?
Where's filtered light?
How many hours of sunlight does each portion of the landscape get?

Know your utility lines.
Where are your water, electrical, gas, and cable lines?
Know the governing rules if applicable.
Do you have an HOA that doesn't allow it?

For us, our soil drains well, is slightly alkaline, and has a modest amount of organic matter.  I am able to find earthworms in it, and I have been able to grow a variety of plants.  Despite some structural and natural shade, the light is very intense in all areas, and plants must be able to tolerate at least part sun and heat.  In general, Texas natives, Mediterranean, and South African plants do best.  There is a water and gas line running to the house from the street, and we don't have an HOA.
My husband and I have started our front yard garden. Your guide is great for helping us with our project plan! We cleared the land, have plans drawn out, have selected plants, trees and shrubs, pathway materials, etc. We started installing edging and hit the breaks...while we are creating a drought tolerant landscape, we certainly still have watering needs and a lot too big for hand watering. We've decided to investigate a gray watering system for our yard and will be installing something like that with drip irrigation before moving to the next step. THANK YOU for all of the great ideas!
P.S. Would love to see recent pics as plants have had time to mature!
Looks great!&nbsp; I hate having to tend to a lawn.&nbsp; I've often said to my wife that I'd like to tear out the grass and grow corn instead.&nbsp; She didn't seem to like the idea.<br /> <br /> Perhaps something a bit smaller would be in order, though.<br />
Or maybe change tactics.&nbsp; A yard of corn might not be the most appealing thing to consider, but if you throw in some ornamentals, some fruiting shrubs, a tree, and some other vegetables, you might have a better chance of convincing her.&nbsp; Of course, you can just slowly start adding beds until the grass is gone...<br /> <div id="refHTML">&nbsp;</div>
NICE<br /> Just added Agave to the front yard here.<br />
Very cool.&nbsp; I have a tiny Harvard Agave in the front, but it really is tiny.&nbsp; :-P<br />
Harvard...?&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; interesting.<br /> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mronrust/4579891071/" rel="nofollow">www.flickr.com/photos/mronrust/4579891071/</a><br /> <br />
I'm going to post the photo to a question.&nbsp; I cannot seem to find a picture with a name of what kind of Agave this is.<br />
I'm going to guess some variety of agave parryi or potatorum.&nbsp; Running a quick search online, you can check with the Central Arizona Cactus and Succulent Society for better identification, and it seems they go on plant rescues too.&nbsp; It might be a good club to check out.<br />
<p>Bravo! Hooray for you eliminating your lawn!! And a hearty &quot;well done&quot; from me. Being in the Midwest where the black soil is several feet thick, there is no hope of out living weeds. We must come to a point where we acknowledge the pests and even admire their tenacity, while all the time hoping to find the &quot;magic&quot; solution to their ultimate demise.</p>
Love your instructable!&nbsp; Good job.&nbsp; I am doing pretty much the same thing, so was quite impressed with your accomplishments.&nbsp; Thought you would like to see some shots of my front yard.&nbsp; Was going to do an instructable, but you beat me to it!&nbsp; Good luck in the contest. Cman<br />
Thanks and good luck with the new bed!!&nbsp; I wish cordyline was cold hardy here.<br />
I love your non-lawn.&nbsp; I have seen this type of approach attempted before, and yours is definitely one of the most sucessful.&nbsp; I think your willingness to go slowly is smart, I believe the space evolves in a more organic way.<br /> <br /> I used to own a home and my garden was a wonderful&nbsp;source of&nbsp;recreation,&nbsp;relaxation and pride&nbsp;for me.&nbsp; I had been there about ten years when I became ill and had to sell it.&nbsp; Many of the plants were really beginning to come into their own at that point.&nbsp; The rose bushes, the magnolia tree, the row of lush peonies finally blooming big and sweet.&nbsp; The clematis, I could go on and on, but I don't want to bore.&nbsp;&nbsp; But let me just mention the lilacs I'd planted under my bedroom window and the the fig bush which I'd bought as a cutting from a woman whose father-in-law had brought the original&nbsp;from Italy when he came to America in the 1920's.<br /> <br /> I need advice!&nbsp; In the apartment I'm in now, I have a little cement patio&nbsp;where I have some&nbsp;pots and a fairly large area where 4 big old pines live.&nbsp;&nbsp; So, always pine needles underfoot, no sun and a&nbsp;good amount of pine cones.&nbsp;&nbsp; But, squirrels, squirrels, squirrels, squirrels, squirrels, squirrels and squirrels.&nbsp; The little grey&nbsp; rodents managed to eat all the bulbs I'd put in the pots, I thought they would be a&nbsp;little more protected in pots.&nbsp; Believe it or not, I was not able to find chicken wire to cage the bulbs in, so I sprinkled copious amounts of sparky spices (hot peppers, curry, that sort of thing) but it was totally ineffective.&nbsp;&nbsp; I next put some really lovely shade seeking calidiums and deep rich purple calla lilies in a big shiny red pot and the little rodents decided the certainly looked delicious, so they plants were nibbled <br /> off but not eaten.&nbsp;&nbsp; Help, I want a garden.&nbsp; I must be somewhat discrete as it is an apartment community, but there must be something I can grow under those pine trees that the squirrels won't devour.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /> <br /> By the way, I live in the Baltimore suburbs, so that lets you know my growing region.&nbsp;&nbsp; My dog does relieve himself under the pines, but I am always following right behind him to clean up.<br /> <br /> Oh my, I have gone on!!!!&nbsp; Sorry if I have bored or worn you out.&nbsp; Like I said, just need some advice.<br /> Ann
I know there are a number of deer resistant plants that are hardy in your area.&nbsp; Check out hardy euphorbias and cacti for starters.&nbsp; Some cholla are hardy to zone 4 and have GORGEOUS blooms and a great growth habit.&nbsp; There are also daffodils and alliums that the deer hate although they'll need to be protected from squirrels.&nbsp; Even my cats lay off the daffodils because they taste so nasty.<br /> <br /> Since I generally don't have a problem with deer and squirrels, I couldn't really say what exactly is your best bet, but I hope those get you started.&nbsp; Deer just aren't around here, and squirrels can find tastier foods than my bulbs because of the acorns falling from the mature oak in the back and the food scraps in the compost pile.&nbsp; I also leave out ears of corn for them to nibble on - actually it's only been the 1 and it's been out for a while now...&nbsp; If they can find something tastier to eat, they'll leave your plants alone.&nbsp; Pine trees don't offer much for wildlife.<br /> <br /> If you need some more ideas, give your local horticultural extension office a ring and ask for some tips.&nbsp; If you start looking around online and catalog sources, you'll find a number of plants that are reported to be deer resistant in the descriptions.&nbsp; I've never really gardened outside of Texas so I'm not too sure what's the best thing to recommend when it comes to specific plants because I can grow things you can't and you can grow things that I can't.&nbsp; There are definitely plants that are less tasty and won't attract so much attention from the local wildlife.&nbsp; Sorry I'm not more help.<br />

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