Lawn Reduction: the Planting Areas – Part 1

A couple of weeks ago I drove out to pick up a pear tree at Johnson’s Nursery. On the way I passed through suburban Menomonee Falls and was treated to a miles long expanse of lush… green…lawns. Just lawn. All that life-giving soil and space, dedicated to supporting grass! That was all I needed  to stoke my commitment to the Lawn Reduction Project.

I have a couple of project updates to report. First, I collected soil and had a general soil consultation/analysis with Neil Diboll; and second, the areas for native plants, food and hardscape are defined.

Soil analysis. The good news is it’s good soil! I only went down to a depth of 10″ so this may be an optimistic conclusion, but most of what I have planted in the past has done well with zero soil amendment. Neil examined by sight and feel, the soil from a few different areas in the yard and then roughly projected his insights onto a soil analysis triangle. The technical description is ‘silty clay loam.’ I knew it was clay, as is all Milwaukee soil, but there are many variations of ‘clay’ soil.

Since looking at the soil samples with Neil, I’ve done more digging. Examining soil from other areas of the yard  – and deeper – I found that much of it has a higher clay content than the samples I brought in for Neil’s analysis. Particularly on the East side, between houses. I was not thorough enough in collecting samples. The soil variation at different areas of a property, even a city lot, can be pretty wide.

-images of dirt to come!-

Based on that analysis, I’ll be selecting native plants from the ‘clay busters’, ‘medium soils’ groups on our website — also from ‘shade to semi shade,’ and grasses & sedges that do well in medium & clay soils.

Defining the areas for planting. This planning sketch shows general areas designated for food producing, hardscape, No Mow Lawn, and the Native Plant installation areas.

I really enjoy the planning part. Maybe even a little too much. I could labor endlessly on minute details. But thinking about it isn’t gonna get ‘er done.

Actually, I have already started moving existing plants and preparing areas for the food gardening areas. It’s not all fun and sketching.

I’m listening to the buzz of the neighbors lawn mower as I write… adding fuel to the fire.

Coming next time: Stop planning and get to work! Actual photos – ‘Before’ Images: Yard in Chaos.



2 thoughts on “Lawn Reduction: the Planting Areas – Part 1

  1. Thank you David. This summer was a difficult year for all of us who suffered, and continue to suffer through this drought. Native plants certainly are the answer to creating a xeric or water wise landscape. We’re happy to know we provided some inspiration! We will think good thoughts of rain showers for you and all the drought stricken areas. Many Thanks, Sarie, Technical Services, Prairie Nursery.

  2. I am working very hard to accomplish this in my 1.2 acre lawn. HUGE JOB! With the intense drought, I also have to keep in mind I could end up with NO water. My water bill was $700 this summer as it was. So, thanks for the inspiration. Can’t wait to read more and get ideas!!! :)

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