Why I Killed My Front Lawn - And Replaced It With Native, Drought Resistant Plants

Denver Lawn - Before And After Native Plant Transformation
Denver Lawn - Before And After Native Plant Transformation

What motivated you to create a wildscape garden?

I created this garden for several reasons. The space started out as about 300 square feet of Kentucky Blue Grass that was difficult to keep looking nice, and wasn’t very functional because it was in the front of the house. I wanted to reduce my water use and create a garden that was unique and would attract pollinators and wildlife.

Our home’s builder provided the original landscaping. Even though the original landscape included the bluegrass that I eventually replaced, the plants in the border between the house and the grass were a great start to my habitat garden and included snowberry bushes, a hawthorn tree, several ornamental grasses, junipers, and spirea. I wanted to create a cohesive space that blended the original plants with the new.

White Swan Coneflower stars in this pollinator garden.
White Swan Coneflower stars in this pollinator garden.
Moon Garden with Lamb's Ear
Moon Garden with Lamb's Ear

What native and drought resistant plants did you use?

Habitat Hero Birdwatcher Garden - After three months
Habitat Hero Birdwatcher Garden - After three months

What steps did you take to replace your lawn?

  • To kill the lawn, I spread of thin layer of manure and compost over the grass and then covered the area with black plastic.
  • After about a month the grass looked sufficiently dead. I rented a rototiller and tilled in the lawn, then removed the spray irrigation lines and extended a drip irrigation line into the new garden.
  • I had a load of wood mulch and a few small boulders delivered and placed in the garden. The boulders provide a little bit of interest in the spring when there isn’t much blooming, and they are also very popular stepping stones for the kids that walk by.
  • I’ve added to the garden each year but I still have gaps to fill in.
Swallowtail Butterfly on Milkweed (Asclepias)
Swallowtail Butterfly on Milkweed (Asclepias)
Honey Bee on White Swan Coneflower
Honey Bee on White Swan Coneflower

What pollinators and wildlife do you find in your garden?

  • My favorite pollinators that I’ve found in my garden are the bumblebees. I’ve observed Brown-belted, Yellow, and Hunt’s bumblebees. About a year ago I started photographing my bumblebees for the Xerces Society’s Bumble Bee Watch.
  • My kids and I also report observations of ladybugs to Cornell University’s Lost Ladybug Project.
  • I’ve also enjoyed watching the white-lined sphinx moths that visit in the evening.
  • Last year I planted a Furman’s Red Sage and Texas Red Yucca to provide for the hummingbirds that are around from late July into September.
  • I also have a spot reserved for a columnar juniper and some milkweed that I hope to get started this fall to support monarch butterflies.

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Interview Conducted and Edited by Wendy Hatoum, Marketing Brand Manager, High Country Gardens

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