Thursday, July 29, 2021


 Earlier this year I wrote about the Lawn2Garden effort to convert our remaining grass lawn into planted landscape area.  Since then, I've decided to leverage the Long Beach Lawn to Garden program to complete this conversion and to see what the process is like to leverage this resource.  The conversion was something we were planning to do with or without the official city program, but I felt that it would be worth it to document the experience so that others can benefit from this information.

In June of 2021 I submitted the Lawn2Garden application for our 271 square feet of grass and it was quickly approved.  California is in the throws of a very extensive drought, and I cannot in good conscious continue to pour water on the lawn.  I personally don't find the aesthetics of a lawn to be very appealing in Southern California as it doesn't match the landscape or draw cues from it in any way.  At the same time, it will allow the front-yard to match the work we've done in the backyard so that there is more cohesion.  

With the approval from the Long Beach Water departments Lawn2Garden conversion in hand, we set off to complete the final drawing for the front-yard conversion.  We leveraged most of the same plants we used in the backyard when we worked with Randi at Tree of Life nursery to complete that design.  The numbers on the design correspond to the ID numbers on this plant list, which also shows watering requirements.  On the plant list, reference the 'Front Yard' sheet.  The plant selections changed very little from our backyard plant palette and that was completely by design.  First, we've had very good luck with all the plants we used in the backyard and have lost very few.  In addition, using most all of the same plants will help ensure a high-level of cohesion from front to back.  

Enough talking and more pictures:

Why such good luck with the backyard plants?  We planted in November of 2020 right prior to what rain we did receive that winter.  That proved to be very smart.  The plants thrived in the cooler temps and set roots very quickly.  Many sprang up and grew like crazy during the spring of 2021.  Some of the most vigorous were as follows:

  • Dana Point Buckwheat
  • White Sage
  • Yerba Buena
  • Calylophus Hartwegii
  • Ray Hartman Ceanothus
If fairness, all of the plants we've put in have performed like rock stars.  The above are some of the most vigorous.  Since May, 2021, we have set the low-pressure irrigation system to water 10 minutes (two five-minute cycles) every 15 days!  The watering requirements have been so minimal that it is making me consider not installing any irrigation at all in the front-yard landscape.  I have found that minimal water is required to nurse these plants to full health when planted in the fall/winter which prepares them to grow vigorously on what very little water they receive.  I intend to follow this model in the front-yard.  I will likely need to add minimal irrigation for the existing Japanese maple that is currently planted in the front-yard.  This tree has already reached full-growth or we would consider replacing it with a low/no water varietal.  There was a secondary non-native tree that had been planted that we removed.  Instead, we replaced it with the Ray Hartman (pruned up as a tree) which will better match our backyard design.

One of the big features in the submitted design is the addition of a swale and a small berm.  We added this feature on both the left and right side of the design.  In 2020 we installed gutters and drainage to funnel roof water to pop-ups in our front yard.   Based on the winter experience in 2020/21, we noticed that much of the winter rain flooded the front-yard and then ran onto the sidewalk and down to the nearest storm drain.  We plan to capture more of this precious water so that it soaks into the landscape.  The swales will prevent more of the water from entering the storm drain, and provide more growth potential for our native plants.

We anxiously await the Lawn2Garden approval of our submitted design.  We will be doing most all of this work ourselves in the September/October timeframe with the hope of planting come October/November of this year.  With any luck we will receive plenty of rain this winter.  If we don't, then at least we'll know that our landscape can tolerate what little supplemental water it will receive in spring/summer of 2022.