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.
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.
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....
That sounds perfect to me! Im a big fan of bees and other friendly insects!
I started two scarlett maples from seedlings about seven years ago and they're already over thirty feet tall. I also have two star magnolias that a friend twigged for me and they grew over three ft in two years and one of them bloomed the third. I have three wild butterfly weeds that bloom bright orange, they shame the store bought ones, that I dug out of a field beside the public hwy. And wild pink honeysuckle vine from the woods. I've transplanted various daffodils that were growing along the road where abandoned homesteads used to be. And liliac bushes. The wild ones are always healthier and have much brighter color.
Daniel, I enjoyed your post. Good ideas and information.
Maybe I shouldn't mention it, but when you talked about saving some illegally discarded flowers, you said (perhaps to deflect any criticisms) the official term was “scrounging”.
No offense intended, but I don’t like the word “scrounging”. It has a very bad connotation (and denotation). Perhaps I don’t appreciate the intended use, but I would call it “gleaning”.
OK, gleaning it is!
Daniel, I'm fairly new to the A/N site and I'm still reading the various blogs. I know you posted this article some time ago, but I just discovered this post, and it is certainly relevant it is for me today. I've just printed it and will use your many goods ideas in the near future. I'm happy to say that I'm already "scrounging" as you suggested and have several things growing in my yard that were given to me by friends. Since I just bought my house last year and the landscaing was nil I'm starting from scratch, a new tree, a couple of shrubs, and some xeriscape plants this year. All of the people who contribute to your blog are an inspiration to me. I have a 4' x 30' bed in which I'm in the process of killing the grass with tarps. Once our hot summer is over I'll begin to plant some food-producing things along with herbs. Thank you for all the information.
Daniel, I planted a tree this spring and had planned to plant another one next year. After reading all these postings it just dawned on me that I could save the little branches I will be cutting off the existing one and grow a new one! To some this may have been obvious, but being a novice gardener this is a new way of thinking. If it works, I'll be able to plant my new little tree this fall and best of all as you say it will be "free". Grow onward!