How Much Did It Cost to Replace My Lawn with a Garden?

AFTER: Garden in summer 2017, the third year after removing the lawn

I recently read through Emily Henderson’s backyard makeover and was horrified at the cost ($19k for materials + $10k for design and labor). We were able to replace our lawn for much less – just over $4k for the first three years – because we did the design and labor ourselves, and planted smaller plants that would take a while to grow in.

To be fair, my yard’s smaller and has no remaining lawn; additionally, we don’t have any boulders or hardscape (we plan to install a path) We did build an arbor ourselves, which was the most expensive single part of the initial installation!

BEFORE: My uninspiring “lawn” aka clover patch with two anchor shrubs in May 2013

Continue reading

Lawn Replacement: the Pollinator Garden 3 Years Later

NOW – my garden, three years after lawn replacement

Three years ago (spring 2015), we ripped out our lawn and replaced it with a pollinator-friendly, drought-tolerant, and native garden. We happened to pick the worst possible summer to replace the garden – the drought was so bad the water districts called for voluntary water reductions and asked people to stop watering their lawns etc.

BEFORE – same view of the garden in September 2015, the year of planting.

Continue reading

Upping Your Game: Self Assessment for Writers

Each year since 2010, I’ve conducted a personal review looking at aspects of my life from my creative career to my lifestyle. Several months ago, I decided that I need to up my writing game, so I also dug deep into my writing’s strengths and weaknesses. I think it’s worthwhile for writers to set aside a few hours to complete an honest, kind self-assessment of your writing to help you improve your writing.

Continue reading

The Self-Quantified Writer

The quantified self movement of collecting personalized body data has exploded since its ‘genesis’ in 2007, with a FitBit on every wrist and services like 23 and me offering personalized genetic analysis. I’m a data fanatic who studied to become a scientist, and I’ve bought into personal analytics, with a FitBit of my own, food tracking on MyFitnessPal, a log of my reading on Goodreads, and time tracking on RescueTime. But why should data be limited to our bodies’ data? Why not apply self-tracking to our creative pursuits, too?

Continue reading

DIY Lawn Replacement: Plant Success Report

Front yard in three planting beds

Front yard in three planting beds, September 2015

When I was selecting plants for my front yard lawn replacement, I had a challenging time guessing which plants would do well, especially the natives. There doesn’t seem to be a ton of info out there about which native plants take well to PNW Puget Lowlands gardens (or maybe I was looking in the wrong spots).

I planted between May and July 2015, shopping at multiple nurseries to get everything (and still couldn’t find everything I’d picked out), so I’m reporting back on how the plants I chose did after an extremely hot and dry summer. I think I had higher-than-normal mortality due to the drought, rabbits, and mistakenly thinking one section of my yard was much shadier than reality.

I’ve divided the blend of native, drought-tolerant, and wildlife-friendly plants into categories: favorites, doing well, surprises, meh, dying, dead, and scrapped.

(Check out the three-year garden update, with lessons learned about plant selection, garden design and the replacement process.)

Continue reading