Our New Xeriscaped Lawn is Complete!

Our New Xeriscaped Lawn, originally uploaded by johntynan.

After weeks of discussion, some creative financing and simple luck, our lawn is now complete. Rene says she’s really glad to have kept out of the discussion and that, in the end, it turned out just right. I couldn’t agree more (that it turned out well. Rene’s input was invaluable).  To read Rene’s take on our landscaping issues, visit her blog at therollerskatejams.blogspot.com.

A great deal of credit goes to Tom Tash for listening to what we said we wanted, then being patient with us when we changed our minds. In the end, I think he helped us to make all the right choices:

clockwise from left to right: Lantana. Langman’s Sage. Hybrid Palo Verde. Arizona Yellow Bells (out of frame: Bird of Paradise. Acacia).

  1. Christy’s avatar

    I love this! You need a rake that is dedicated, no, consecrated to make this Japanese-style garden-esque.

    Could be a nice ceremony with you and Rene (and GOD I feel stalker-esque knowing so much about you all!) Carve the rake handle, or paint it. What do your neighbors think? If they didn’t like it, I’d write, “F–k you” with the gravel. Or make the gravel into a cairn, with a celtic cross.

    Our neighbors in Florida watched our lawn die and while they didn’t turn us in, when I DID do some long overdue lawn work, the husband came and videotaped me–as an insult, like it was some rare event.

    Here in Missouri, we’ve had the authorities here twice. Once, we had our floors refinished and my husband put our stuff out on the carport–for weeks. Then, we had brush beside the house that my husband said he was saving for synagogue–some inexplicable ritual called the Lag Ba’Omer bonfire. He’s a good soul, though. I only wish he’d be home to catch the wrath of the inspectors sometime.

  2. Rene’s avatar

    How could my input have been invaluable if I stayed out of the discussion? Are you suggesting that the fact that I stayed out of the discussion WAS invaluable?!?


  3. kate’s avatar

    You did a great job … I read through your landscaping saga, kind of appalled by your neighbours. Why would you want a verdant green lawn in Arizona when you can landscape with incredible native plants? We have much the same thing here in the summer – often long periods without rain and hot, hot temperatures. Most people’s lawns go brown and no one thinks much of it. But then, our summers last for a few months and the rest of the time, lawns are covered in snow. I opted out of the lawn routine when I moved here and had a nasty-looking lawn. It is now all pea gravel with lots of hardy roses and ninebark shrubs.(maroon leaves)

    I think you should add a few more gnomes and put them nearer your bizarre neighbour’s place.

    Rene was amazing to have stayed out of the discussion … I would have just had to insert my two-cents worth.

  4. Ann Frye’s avatar

    Your yard is beautiful, thoughtful, and timely. In spite of what your neighbor and the city inspectors think, we are NOT going to ship Lake Michigan down to water the grass and fill the swimming pools of the arid southwest. They want bluegrass, it grows in Kentucky. My own soapbox is to encourage my neighbors to grow prairie flowers (they KNOW what it’s like to live in the prairie).

  5. Danielle’s avatar

    What a brilliant plan! Your yard is lovely (more photos, please!), and it is one fantastic example of a way to avoid the waste of water. I applaud your creativity in sticking to your neighbors and to “the man.”

    The grass-prioritizing, hypocritical (interesting how cities set water use limits, yet expect precious lawns), water-abusing man, that is.

  6. danno’s avatar

    I read your posts and the NPR article … and I must say, “Hats off to you.”

    In South Florida, we have the same type of people as your neighbors… it sickens me.

    When are we going to realize as a community that we belong to the environment… and not the other way around?

    Keep up the good work, and like another commenter suggested… aim some gnomes in their direction, their beady little eyes staring them down every time the come outside.

  7. Anna’s avatar

    Please don’t think I’m criticizing but just to input that if rainharvesting principles had been applied it might be a bit better. Using little hills and depressions in key spots could have created a friendlier area for plants and a better use of what water comes your way. Brad Lancasters book “Harvesting Rainwater” is good and I believe he has a web page as well. He lives in Tucson and is practicing what he preaches.

  8. Strangeite’s avatar

    I am curious, what do your neighbors think of the new lawn?

  9. John Tynan’s avatar

    Thanks for the suggestions, the questions, and for following the story of our lawn. Our neighbors conspicuously did not mention this. I congratulated them on their garage expansion, but they could not find a way to comment on such a sea change with our lawn. I think it’s a real sore point with them. Too bad. We’re absolutely pleased with our new xeriscaping. We’ve even added a few more gnomes (we’re up to five).

  10. Christy’s avatar

    When I hear about people that are so…….regimented? in their thinking, I always feel sad. Then I wonder–do they SEE it? And do *I* have any issues like that, that I don’t see as petty?


    Makes me wonder how big world issues ever get solved. Really.

    (uh-oh…..I think my “issue” is turning a little lawn controversy into a microcosm of world peace. And doing it with EVERYTHING. Yikes. It’s a sickness.)

  11. hoseme’s avatar

    I am sooo glad Rene stayed out of the discussion 🙂

    p.s. I liked the old yard better….

  12. jenn’s avatar

    Looks good. I’m a newcomer to Phoenix (from Michigan) and have often thought the folks with all the grass lawns are just plumb crazy.

    We’re renting a house that has been totally desert-scaped, but I still need to get out there and weed a bit. Now that the weather’s cooled a bit, that might get done!

    It was nice to see someone local getting a bit of attention for a sane garden. Cheers!

  13. Kevin’s avatar

    I’m thinking of having similar landscaping done down here in Tucson. How much did your project cost when all was said and done?

  14. Karen Escott’s avatar

    John – Great chatting with you at Stacy B’s Mardi Gras. Your xeriscape lawn looks awesome, and it’s a beautiful and practical solution. That’s so cool that you were able to use the expertise of a Desert Botanical Garden master. Enjoy!


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