3. Let the lawn go brown. This applies to dry-summer climates. Not all neighborhoods allow brown lawns, and not all spouses allow them. If you can get away from it, quit watering it, let it go brown. Cut any weeds that come up. When the rains start again, the lawn will green up and grow again. Mine has for the past 5 years. This is nature's cycle. Expectation of green lawn in a dry-summer climate is zone-denial. Tell the neighbors to get over it. Meanwhile, you save the cost of energy, gas/electricity if you are using a power mower; cut back on the water bill, and can be smug about your environmental consciousness.
Cardboard Mulch - works better than newspaper for areas with hard to kill weeds. Lasts two-three years. Tough like weed barrier.
Rug Mulch - Okay, we had a really tough spot along the fence, so I threw an old rug down and cut holes in it and planted a sumac some flowers. The flowers seem to be okay, but my sumac is spotty and the leaves are not turning color like they should. I think the chemicals in the rug are leaching. We plan to pull the rug up now that the plants are dormant - won't do this idea again.
Water Barrels - Saw an ad on Craigslist for two water barrels, 10$ each. Some kid was dismantling two school buses that had portable water barrels on them. We bought them and modified them so that they have downspouts. We cut the tops off and covered the tops with mesh to prevent mosquito breeding. We then dropped small submersible pumps in, and hooked the pumps up to a battery that is connected to a single solar panel. We attached that to a nearby on-off switch, and with a flick of a switch, we have water pumping through a hose out of our water barrels.
I can vouch for the cardboard mulch. In my rainy climate it doesnt last 2 years because of the rain. That is enough time to kill grass or weeds. I cover it with straw.
The water barrels sound great! I need to look into that. We have a well, but rainwater would be better.
Some rugs might work well. I haven't done that either!
Oh I really love this article. I am trying to spruce up my garden in my yard. Thanks!
Moving this post back to the top... Still relevant.
I would emphasize more, starting from seeds and cuttings.
Exchange starts with friends and contacts, in person and on line.
Saving seeds that grow true or are OK if they don't. Saving seeds is a good way to develop locally adapted varieties, and also to bring in new genetic diversity to your area.
Scrounge - I have some great plants from discards, found while walking the dogs or at yard and estate sales, waiting to be hauled away.
Rustle - With some ethical precautions. Don't steal without asking the owner of the property, but there are roadside plants and abandoned houses and cemeteries, and old cemeteries where the manager will let you take some rose or shrub cuttings, or iris rhizomes. These abandoned plants, by the mere fact that they survived, are well adapted to your own region. Darwinian choices at their finest.
Close-out, end of season, mark down. Be careful with these - some are good only with compost. Still, I have a rhubarb, some shrubs, and perennials that just needed some TLC and were marked down to near-give-away. OK if you are careful and don't mind the risk and sometimes wait for recovery.
I got a whole 8 x 4 sheet of gypsum at Home depot for $1. It was a damaged one that i needed for its calcium content.
It is seed exchange time, ya'll. I have some zone 8 seeds ya'll may like...native persimmon (must trim to keep low), trifoliate orange ('edible' round lemons great in tea..HARDY!!!)...
10. Remove your grass lawn. Replace it with a pollinator lawn. This is one of the best things you can do as a private citizen to help bring back our bee population. Replacing your lawn with native low-maintenance cover crops such as clover is beneficial to bees and other pollinators. It also increases the space for planting larger plants, such as flowers and vegetables. Finally, no chemicals are necessary and your yard's ability to absorb rainwater and runoff with be enhanced http://organicgardening.about.com/od/lawns/a/Hos-To-Plant-A-Bee-fri....