The Saga of a Puget Sound DIY Native & Pollinator Garden Lawn Replacement

AFTER: My pollinator garden in 2017

For two years, I dreamed of replacing my lawn with a native, drought-tolerant, wildlife-friendly garden. Finally, I removed my old lawn and replaced it with a garden in 2015. Installation and updates during the first three years (2015 through 2017) cost just over $4,000. As with all major projects, it didn’t go precisely as planned. I’m sharing my successes and misadventures so others in the Puget Lowlands / Seattle area who are considering replacing their lawns with a pollinator garden can avoid repeating my mistakes. See the three-year garden report!

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

Planting plan for my lawn replacement, featuring native, pollinator-friendly, and drought-tolerant plants.

Planting plan for my lawn replacement, featuring native, pollinator-friendly, and drought-tolerant plants.

Phase One: Planning

  • Layout Design
  • Plant Selection

Phase Two: Preparation

  • Removing the Lawn
  • Soil Testing & Amendment

Phase Three: Installation

  • sod cutting lawn

    Sod cutting the lawn.

    Plant shopping

  • Plant layout & planting
  • Lighting & hardscape

See how much it cost to DIY install our new garden.

Phase Four: Survival

My garden, three years after lawn replacement

Phase Five: Future!

  • Replanting
  • Incorporating bulbs
  • Adding more mulch & fixing the soaker hoses

Check out the garden after three years here – plus lessons learned on the replacement process, garden design and plant selection.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Giving Back to My Bioregion

But people aren’t the only ones we have to thank for our successes. Our community provides, our planet provides. To me, it makes sense for decisions about resources to be made at a bioregional scale, not just a state-wide scale. And why stop at resources – I think of my fellow Cascadians as comrades in decision-making and management, bound by geography and place.

As a homeowner, I appreciate Kirkland’s natural areas and wildlife, from the frogs chorusing in the pond across the street to the many parks that forward-thinking citizens of the past preserved. As a hiker and nature-lover, I benefit from the advocacy and hard work of hiking, outdoor, and recreation groups that fight to preserve and improve access to trails and maintain them.

Donations of cash obviously help local organizations, but there are more involved ways to give back, not just pay it back. What can I do to give back at home? There are tiers of “home” I try to consider: my house, my community, my bioregion.

Continue reading

Giving Back to the Creative Community

No one is self-made. Everyone benefits from the help of others, whether simply being inspired by their work or creations or getting direct assistance from them. There’s a risk to self-improvement, that we could become so focused on ourselves that we forget about improving the world for others. As I realize more and more clearly the privileges I’ve had in developing my career and life, I think about how I can give back to the people and places that have brought me to the happy space I am now. I’m not formally-trained in graphic design, aside from a few no-credit community college classes – I’m community-trained. What can I do to give back to my fellow creatives?

As a graphic designer, I owe other creatives for their inspiring work, generous free textures and stock photos and typefaces, and helpful tutorials. As a writer, I’m learning from writers who share wisdom about the craft as well as business advice.

Giving back is an active form of gratitude, a way to make my appreciation public. Staying silent about the help I’ve had shaping my skills and lifestyle devalues those contributions. It might go without saying, but don’t make it go without doing.

Continue reading

Designing the Life of My Ideals: Preparing for 2015

design-the-life-of-your-idealsThis fall, I took the biggest, scariest leap towards the life I want to lead.

After six and a half years, I left my first professional job and accepted a part-time position. For now, I have Fridays off, and I’ll likely also have Thursdays off midway through 2015.

A woman of many passions, I’ve always lamented my lack of time. Working full time, I made more than enough money to live on, but never had the time (or more importantly, the energy) to pursue my creative endeavors to the extent I wanted. My consulting job, structured around billable hours, stressed me to the point of insomnia and anxiety. Harried, I dropped lifestyle choices that matched my ideals in favor of creative work – I had no energy to wake up early enough to bike to work (honestly, only twenty minutes earlier), I no longer experimented with new recipes and we started eating out more frequently, I quit baking, I couldn’t be bothered to go to the bulk grocer. I felt myself drifting from the life of voluntary simplicity I want, falling into a cycle of indifference.

I may be quiet, but I have never been indifferent.

What was I doing to my health in service to a life I didn’t even want?

As Chris Guillebeau says, in order to live the life we want and avoid getting lost in daily life, “we must work on our lives the way we would work on any other project.” I didn’t want to lose sight of my vision for my ideal life. I didn’t want to run out of fucks to give.

Continue reading

Teaching Behavior Change: Lessons from SPARKS 2014

Candy Castellanos of Waste Management speaking about foodcycling

Candy Castellanos of Waste Management speaking about foodcycling

This week I went to the 2014 SPARKS conference focused on social marketing in the Pacific Northwest. Speakers shared lessons from projects ranging from health care design to promoting safer pesticides and cleaning products to engaging residents in food scrap composting. Targeting “low-hanging fruit” was the conference’s unofficial theme — a good reminder that even the most daunting task can be broken into achievable goals.

  • For successful long-term, effective behavior change, draw on how humans evolved by stressing the personal benefits of change and making use of our need to feel valued by the group. Hogan Sherrow of You Evolving
  • Prevention, or no action, can be the behavior change you target. Heather Trim’s team analyzed shoreline armoring and decided the easiest target wasn’t removing bulkheads, but preventing them from being built on the homes that don’t have them now. With a “Beach Friendly” campaign, they’re establishing ‘no action’ as the behavior norm for shoreline homeowners. Heather Trim from Futurewise
  • Question all your assumptions when you’re deciding how to design an education campaign. They assumed shoreline homeowners were primarily families, when in reality they were almost all over 60. Heather Trim from Futurewise
  • Local stores make good partners for education campaigns because they have better staff retention than big box stores, making knowledge shared with sales staff ‘last longer’ when reaching the public. Jenn Leach of Seattle Tilth
  • Facilitators should design diagrams that invite discussion and ask users to tell a story. Kate Hasting from The Cadmus Group
  • Transcreation supplants translation: context is decisive in meaning. Transcreation combines language with context to convey the same meaning and spirit in different languages. Ha Na Park of C+C
  • Model desired behaviors with photos of how we want people to act. Haley Cureton of WA Dept. of Health and Mary Rabourn of King County