Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Stroll Around the Neighborhood

I try to walk several times each week. Donna and I have a 3 mile route we follow that weaves through our neighborhood, though we occasionally walk other places, such as the walk along the river downtown. When we walk in our neighborhood, we are basically walking in an area with homes under 20 years of age. The older homes have mature trees and lawns, either with Bermuda or St. Augustine grass.

However, things have been changing during the past few years with drought conditions becoming so dominant in our area. Most homes built in the last 2 or 3 years are putting in low-maintenance yards, and even some of the older homes are converting their yards to low-maintenance. Many houses are like ours, with a low-maintenance yard in front and a traditional grass yard in the small side area.

But low-maintenance is not no-maintenance. There is still a bit of work to do. However, very little watering is required, and that is the big thing for our area. There are weeds and grass to get rid of. Some folks have allowed their low-maintenance yards to be overrun with grass and weeds; you really have to stay on top of things. I usually try to get out for just 2 or 3 minutes a couple of days each week. I normally boil a kettle of water and take with me. When I pull up a weed, I pour a cup or so of boiling water on its stem. I hate to use chemicals, so I try to take a more organic approach to weed control. For weeds and grass along the edge of my yard, where they come up outside the tarp, I just dig down and try to get the entire root system out.

Below are some pictures of homes on my neighborhood walk to give an idea of low-maintenance yards.

This is an older home in the process of converting its grass lawn to low-maintenance. A weed-blocking (yeah, right!) tarp is being set in place. Where tarp meets curb or sidewalk is wear pesky weeds and grass find a place to crop up.

Many of the original low-maintenance yards look something like this, basically just rock and more rock, usually using larger rocks. Although neat and well maintained, they lack any real landscaping.

Some of the older homes with low-maintenance lawns really went overboard with desert plants. This yard has ocotillo, chollas, and numerous other desert plants. Also, notice the different types of rock on either side of the sidewalk.
Example of a low-maintenance yard receiving no maintenance. Most weeds will come up along the edges of the tarp, as in this yard (along curb, sidewalk, etc.)

This yard has some landscaping, but notice all the grass growing up in scattered bunches around the yard.

Here are some of my favorites.

I like this yard. I prefer smaller rocks to larger ones. There is a cement border separating this yard from the neighbor to the left to keep the grass out. There are nice borders around the trees and the bed in front of the house. There are no weeds. There are some plants, but not too many. Notice that the sage is blooming.
Both of these yards are neat and tidy. There's not much in them, but they have a clean appearance.

This one is a bit different, but it seems to work. There are no weeds or grass. The low-lying cedar shrubs give it a look not quite of the desert like most low-maintenance yards in the area.

No plants in the yard itself for this one, but the color in the bed is nice. Very neat appearance.

And to finish off, here is one that is a bit different.

This one mixes the rock landscaping with artificial grass. Several properties around town have begun to use artificial grass, but it is quite expensive.
Our neighborhood mainly consists of patio homes. Originally, most of the residents were retirees who were looking for smaller yards to maintain. These retirees were also attracted to the area by proximity to good shopping, with Walmart, Sam's Club, Sunset Mall, and many other major stores (Academy, Best Buy, Target, Lowe's, etc.) and eateries (Red Lobster, Chili's, CiCi's Pizza, etc.) no more than 2 miles away.

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