My recent post on replacing turf with an edible landscape attracted many comments, especially through Linkin. While I prefer the use of edibles, I certainly realize not everyone wants to tend a food garden.
Grasses and many natives are perfect replacements for the turf in a normal yard. This alternative uses grasses, both native and introduced, and other native flowers and shrubs, to create landscapes that mirror the natural surroundings.
Timber Press recently released three books that address the use and design features of grasses, native flowers, and other plants. The most direct is Designing with Grasses by Englishman Neil Lucas, an up-to-date look at how modern landscapes are using grasses in many situations. He introduces grasses as key landscaping choices to the general gardening audience, suggesting choices for wetland, prairie, desert, woodland and meadow designs. It also offers a plant profile section, and many other reference lists. While not an in-depth look at grasses, it provides a perfect starting point for those interested in native and natural landscapes.
A better known, US expert on grasses, John Greenlee (with Saxon Holt) has written a new book on his specialty, The American Meadow Garden. He started Greenlee Nursery in the early 1980’s, becoming one of the first recognized experts on grasses and their use in design. In 1992, he wrote one of the seminal early works on grasses, The Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses. Now, here he focuses on the grasses that create meadow gardens, discussing details of design, site preparation and many examples of finished designs. The plant selections are covered in a long section complete with design suggestions.
Finally, Lynn Steiner took a similar approach in her Prairie-Style Gardens, with an emphasis on the plants that work in a prairie setting. It also includes plant lists for specific site conditions, and plant profiles for many prairie-adapted species. While her designs are based on four major climate areas of the mid-US, the design approaches can be duplicated in many regions. She also moves well beyond the grasses, and includes many trees, small trees and shrubs, vines and flowers. These gardens seem to have more emphasis on attracting wildlife, and include xeriscaping designs. But, more important, like edible gardens, they replace high input turf with a much sustainable landscape.
Tags:bio-retention ponds, edible landscapes, environemtal landscaping, environmental benefits of trees, garden trends, gardening, green practices, healthy landscapes, native plants, natural landscaping, rain gardens, Sustainable landscape