Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lawn Gone! A Review!

Have you recently been looking at your lawn as more of a chore than an asset?

Want to do something about it but don’t know where to start?

You can start with Pam Penick’s new book Lawn Gone! which provides not only the philosophy and rationale for partially or completely replacing your lawn but also follows it up with clear options and steps you can take to get there.  So it provides both food for thought as well as planning and execution tips.


Today I’m joining Holley at Roses and other Gardening Joys for her garden book review meme.  Of course, you knew my first garden book review would be for Pam Penick’s Lawn Gone!

As an avid follower of Pam’s blog Digging I have enjoyed being on the receiving end of seeing how she takes the challenges of gardening in Central Texas and makes sense of the options.  When she announced she had a book coming out I knew it would be good.

Is this one of those high-end garden books with photos of professionally designed gardens and ideas that are out of reach for those of us with average yards and budgets?

In the book Pam focuses on simple changes you can make with a small budget and often little time invested.  Many of the photos are from homeowners who began with basic yards and created special places on their own.  Photos from professional gardens show inspirational ideas that can be easily adapted for typical yards.  We all need a dose of something to aspire to now and then.

I found plenty of my favorite plants recommended like Nasella tenuissima and a few new plants I'd like to try.


Pam even recommends easy to find and grow plants like asian jasmine which are too often dismissed by many professionals.

That’s cool, but I want to keep some lawn.

There’s plenty of help in Lawn Gone! for those of you who want to keep some lawn.  Pam quickly advises her audiences that she does not dislike lawns nor advocate for their complete removal.   You can use the book to consider your options and as a guide for the gradual removal and replacement of the lawn in phases while keeping adequate play space or a traditional lawn look in the front yard.  She even gives you ideas for no-mow lawn substitutes like this Berkeley Sedge and Texas Sedge I've been testing for a year in my side garden.

Berkeley Sedge                                                                                Texas Sedge
Pam even provides tips on overcoming concerns such as wildlife and insect pests, as well as helpful advice on dealing with skeptical neighbors and HOAs.

Want to add a water feature and need ideas?

Lawn Gone! can get you there with basic tips and ideas along with details on Pam's now iconic stock tank pond.
 
What if I don’t have a lawn to remove in the first place?

That’s exactly my situation and I found Lawn Gone! inspirational for future projects and it’s also full of practical ideas and how-to advice as I advance my plans for replacing weedy bits with drought tolerant gardens.


How did I approach the book?  Since I didn’t have a lawn to remove I read the book from the perspective of inspiration and resources—and it's excellent on that level.  Lawn Gone! also goes beyond the blog with extra detail and new photos.

What if I don’t live in Central Texas; how does this book work for me?

For those of you in other regions Lawn Gone! goes well beyond the Central Texas region to provide inspiration and information anyone would need to remove some or all of their traditional lawn and replace it with groundcover, hardscape, or a perennial garden.  The photo examples represent all regions of the country and there is a section of the book where regional experts provide specific solutions for their areas.

One of her photos has become an inspiration piece for my garage courtyard garden.  Dichondra silver ponyfoot and herbs around a path of flagstones is just the look I want.  The new courtyard is an example of how you can adapt the ideas in the book to your yard and budget.  We used leftover stones from a neighbor's project and set them in topsoil instead of gravel because the stones were free and topsoil worked better for this location.


It's not there yet, but I've got my goal in sight along with an inspiration photo to look at as my new courtyard fills in.

Speaking of inspiration, Moby the Whale's Tongue Agave (Agave ovatifolia) makes an appearance so I had to get in a shot of mine which was absolutely inspired by Moby.


I found the book to work for me on many levels.  A source of inspiration.  A future resource guide.  A practical guide to planning projects.

Pam showcases inspirational, yet achievable ideas with the encouraging tone so familiar from her blog.  Whether you are just embarking on lawn removal or well on your way, Lawn Gone! is an excellent choice to help guide you on your journey.

28 comments:

  1. Great review Shirley! I love the images of the book traveling around your garden; it's much nicer than one of those traveling gnomes! I'm thinking that it doesn't stand up to rain very well though so in gardens with more precipitation, Lawn Gone should probably come inside.

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    1. Like gnomes, books can quickly get out of hand when left to their own devices so Lawn Gone! is safely indoors on my desk when not being carefully supervised in the garden.

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  2. Love your review and especially the shots of the book around your garden...very clever you are!

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    1. I try to have fun, especially with the blog.

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  3. I liked how you presented this book - in a question/answer format. You answered the question I had about it, and I found myself saying Yes! Yes! to your first two questions. This book is on my must-have list. I would love to have much, much less lawn! Thanks for joining in!

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    1. It was my pleasure and I did enjoy it.

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  4. Shirley, what can I say? I'm completely bowled over by your thoughtful and complimentary review, and I am still chuckling with delight over the images of the book posing so sexily in your lovely, lawn-gone garden. Thank you SO MUCH for your support!

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    1. "Bowled over" amazes me, I wanted to have a little fun with it and this is what I came up with. Book portraits in the garden.

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  5. Not surprised at all...it is a fabulous idea and so glad Pam put this into a wonderful book.

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  6. Great review.
    And, I love all the 'posing' the book is doing. Very nice....

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    1. It turned out to be a good subject and never complained one bit about all the posing in different light and settings.

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  7. Excellent review. I don't have a lawn, but I've got plenty of weedy bits to deal with. Sounds like a good read!

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    1. At least we didn't have to remove lawn, but oh the weeds! I just replaced the word lawn with weeds and the book worked just fine.

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  8. Great review Shirley! I love all the pictures you took too :) I would love you to do more of this - you are a very good book reviewer

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    1. So nice of you to say that Heather, I have a few more garden books around so I'll try and give it another shot soon.

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  9. So...sounds like we can look forward to seeing more book reviews from you. Yay! This was a fun approach.

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    1. While I can see more reviews in my future, no guarantee they will be as much fun.

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  10. I did this at my townhouse where we had a 10 foot front yard and a 40 foot backyard. It worked really well. I have added many beds to the existing yard, but maybe this would help in making the complete transition.

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    1. There are many ideas in the book to guide you in deciding just how much you want to do when reducing the lawn.

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  11. Great review, Shirley!! And I love your photos,as if I were strolling in your garden. I want to read it:) Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thank you Keity, I'm so glad you enjoyed the stroll in my garden.

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  12. I live in a temperate rain forest zone. I struggle with too much water although I'm grateful we have enough. The front yard gets morning sun only. Do you think this book would have info for my situation?

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    1. The book can guide anyone who wants to reduce and replace turfgrass lawn. The plant and hardscape recommendations are by region so some adaptation of these for your specific location and individual situation might be needed.

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  13. Looking good in your lawn "never" garden! I found the same things about her book - a good primer on how to landscape lawnless, in many versions at that. Your place epitomizes it well, and I like the shots of the book over deer statuary or real deer!

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    1. "Lawn never" is a good visual and deer statuary would be a bit much when we have so many real ones to pose in the garden.

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  14. Hey, Shirley, Lawn Gone and your inspired changes (looking good!) are singing my song, one I've embraced since, ummm, 1985, which is the last time I cut grass. Mosses, groundcovers, mulch, shrubs, stone – *anything* but grass. Who knows, if enough of us xeriscape, we might add some time to the planet's life.

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    1. Wish we could have given up the mower that long ago and are certainly not missing it now. "Anything but grass" is what makes your gardens so special Lee. I'm looking for a place to try your colorful carpet path which I think is so cool.

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