Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Garden Talk

Last summer, the Timberglen Branch of the Dallas Public Library asked me to give a talk about my garden. I guess I was pretty good (or maybe they are desperate for a speaker?) because they asked me to do it again. 

I did not have time to create a new presentation, so I dusted off and updated the one from last year. I call it Lawn Free - Landscape with Purpose.  


Library staff wanted me to discuss why and how I removed my lawn and created a garden of native Texas plants. The "why" part of the presentation (my native plant sales pitch) probably ran a little long last time so I am working on reducing that part of the presentation. This will allow more time to discuss the "how" and answer any questions. I think anyone that shows up is probably already interested in making a change and they are more interested in knowing how to do it. I will discuss what worked for me and what didn't. 

So, if you want to know how my front yard went from this look in April 2004 when I bought the house...

and you don't want to read five years worth of blog posts to find out why and how I removed the lawn to create the garden that grows today...
then join me this Saturday, April 26, at 3:00 at the Timberglen Branch Library. The address is 18505 Midway Road in north Dallas. It is near the Dallas North Tollway and the President George Bush Turnpike. After I do my thing, you may even want to stay for the knitting and crochet talk that follows.

21 comments:

  1. Half of my inlaws are from Murphy, though they have been in Plano/Dallas most of their life, too. They were here this weekend and mentioned that Murphy or maybe it was Collin county was looking to potentially go from stage 3 to stage 4 water restrictions..and well, you know how all of the developments look around there. It would be nice if the homeowners associations started embracing your method of landscaping instead of the endless sea of Bermuda and St. Augustine with shrubs hugging the houses. I wonder what's going to create the impetus for that to change??? Everyone with brown lawns in July?

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    1. Misti, I think the drought is getting more people to think about our water resources. Much of Collin County receives its water from the North Texas Municipal Water District. We are currently under Stage 3 restrictions with outdoor watering by sprinklers allowed once every other week. Stage 4, with no outdoor watering, is a very real possibility if the water level of Lake Lavon drops much more. Fortunately, watering restrictions and purchasing of water from Dallas have kept Lake Lavon at a fairly constant level for the last year. Still, I will not advocate my gardening style for everyone. It requires a degree of dedication to keep it from looking like a mess. For most people, I recommend less lawn, larger flowerbeds, and more responsible water use. Most people water much more than is necessary.

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    2. I am president of an HOA in NE Plano and we are very interested I adapting our rules to allow for more water friendly landscaping but we are worried that instead most homeowners would take advantage of such rules to completely ignore their yards. If someone has guidelines for HOAs on how to allow lawn alternatives without allowing people to ignore their lawns I think more HOAS would get on board with the idea.

      This lawn looks beautiful! We would be happy to have it in our neighborhood.

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  2. Oh my goodness. You have accomplished so much in only 5 years. Before shot: Snooze. After; Dynamic. I bet that scene changes a lot over the seasons, too. Love the composition in the presentation title photo. Good luck with the presentation.

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    1. Debra, “dynamic landscape with seasonal changes” is one of my “why” selling points in the presentation. The garden changes by the season and even by the week at certain times of the year. It is much more interesting than a lawn that has two colors: brown or green. Maybe yellow if the lawn is sick.

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  3. The "Landscape With Purpose" concept says so much in a few words. It's good to know that your area is catching on to the idea of reducing lawn and outdoor water use in general.

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    1. Shirley, a lot of people still say “build more lakes”, “stop building houses”, etc. We are a little slow to accept that water is a limited resource and we need to be more conscious of how it is used.

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  4. I'd love to hear your talk, even though I've read 5 years' of your blog posts. Wish I could be there for it. I'll publicize it, though, on my FB page.

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    1. Thanks Pam. Even though I did this last year, I am a little more nervous this time around because more people may show up.

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  5. You certainly impressed me with the before and after shots if I hadn't seen them before. There are a lot of people who need to follow your fine example.

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    1. Thanks Rock rose. I have noticed more people in my neighborhood removing lawn and creating larger flower and shrub beds. Maybe my extreme garden helps to nudge people away from the standard just a little?

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  6. Beautiful transformation! How I wish we could grow bluebonnets here in NC..

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  7. Thanks sweetbay. The bluebonnets are a special treat that Texans can experience in the spring. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a woman sat her two little girls on the curb in front of my house so she could take their picture in the bluebonnets.

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  8. Is there any chance of a tour of your yard? I'm moving to dfw from Austin and I've been wanting to check it out.
    Ps - have any of your neighbors started catching on?

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    1. Sure. Send me an email using the Contact Me by Email feature in the right margin and we can schedule a time. Some neighbors are enlarging their flowerbeds. I doubt anyone will go nuts and get rid of the lawn like I did. It happens more often in Dallas.

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  9. Well,did you survive? I remember giving two garden club talks....bombed on both. I know I was a little too technical.

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    1. I survived, greggo, although it was not my best performance. If I should do this again, I need to limit my topics so I can get into more detail.

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  10. Michael did a great job, even though his audience was small. I know I enjoyed it!

    Michael - Thanks for sharing your garden and insights with us!

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    1. Thanks, Piddler. You are being overly generous. If you enjoyed it, then that is all that matters. When do you want to pick up your snake herb?

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  11. Hi Michael - I would like to plant a section of my yard with bluebonnets. Are there any tips you can give me?
    Also, I don't have an HOA but I do have a very zealous code compliance officer that works my area in Dallas (I'm not complaining too hard... there are some neighbors that care zero for their yards/houses). Do you have a special permit or something to have a native yard.

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  12. Hi The Martha Rose. Here is my tip. Throw out a bunch of bluebonnet seeds in a sunny area in late summer. That is about it.

    My plants grow better in the decomposed granite between the street and the sidewalk. They never seem to do as well in the soil of the main garden beds. Better drainage in the granite, I suppose. Let your plants go to seed each year so you will have more plants the next year.

    I don't have a permit to grow native plants. Maybe there is such a thing in some cities? The main thing in the front yard is to keep it neat and don't give your neighbors a reason to report you to the code enforcement department.

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