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Grass or Greens?

YHB pulling weeds

A book called Edible Estates : attack on the front lawn crossed YHB’s path yesterday. Last night I ate some extraordinarily tasty squash, grown in our back yard and grilled by our next-door neighbor. And this morning I went out and mowed the lawn in two hundred degree heat (with five hundred percent humidity). All of which got me to thinking about this idea of getting rid of the grass and devoting the whole of our (tiny) yard to vegetables and flowers.

Not, you understand, that I am actually planning on doing anything about it. The yard, and particularly the gardens, are my Best Reader’s territory. I grew up in the desert. I lend a hand, here and there, but I don’t make the decisions. At the moment, we have a few small beds for veggies, and the rest is lawn.

Regular Labor:

  • Lawn: Mowing, dandelion-pulling, nettle-pulling
  • Veggies: weeding, harvesting, watering

Annual Labor:

  • Lawn: Not a lot.
  • Veggies: Purchasing new plants/seeds and soil, planting, mulching


  • Lawn: occasional mower sharpening or repair.
  • Veggies: Large initial expense for plants, but then reduced expense for veggies at the store.

You know, for kids!:

  • Lawn: running, jumping, playing catch, kicking a ball around
  • Veggies: education, nutrition

It’s all about YHB:

  • Lawn: I grew up with a lawn, even in the desert. It seems natural.
  • Veggies: Yum, plus it’s fun to watch them grow.

I should also note that where the regular labor of a lawn can be replaced with money outlay, that’s less true of the regular labor of a veggie garden, until either the Perfect Non-Reader or a neighborhood kid can be given that those tasks. At the moment, with our lives how they are, we don’t want to spend money on the outdoors, but as we get older, our interest in avoiding the trowel or mower may increase. Also, the nearest public park/playground is far enough away that a parent would have to go with children for quite a few years yet; it’s walking distance, but across major streets.

What do y’all do, those of you who have control over an outdoor patch near where you live?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


grass, greens, and pretty local plants that take care of themselves. we call it "golden gate park" but it works on smaller lots too.

Our front gardens are primarily floral, though we did harvest a perfect dwarf strawberry yesterday.

Our strip of a side yard has been a tangle of dead grass -- as of this week, the grass is gone and has been replaced by dark mulch. We have a few hydrangeas there, and we want to add a couple more self-sufficient flowering shrubs.

Our back yard is a work-not-in-progress until we can replace 60 cubic yards of railroad gravel and weeds with something plantable. It's the only place we could have grass, but we're interested in other uses: dog run, kitchen garden, cutting garden, sculpture garden. I've been meaning to write a post exploring the idea of a photography garden, as soon as I figure out more ideas for what a photography garden would entail. Now that we have a back deck, we spend a lot of time with the back yard in view, so we'd like something attractive. We just aren't sure what that means, so it's great to read your take on the grass or greens question.

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