Design & Decor - Design Ideas

Turn grass into garden

Lorraine Flanigan

Big ideas for creating small-space gardens where lawn once grew

However you decide to transform your lawn, consider the following:
  • The fundamentals. Do your home­work: Kalen and Ed did extensive preliminary research, and despite a few oversights typical of novice gardeners (they didn’t improve the soil and started seeds too early), the couple’s information-gathering paid off in a bountiful harvest.
  • The condition of the lot. Consider this an opportunity to make any improvements needed, such as fixing drainage problems and amending the soil.  
  • Focal points. Add interest to the landscape by changing the grade; for example, create sunken areas or raised beds. 
  • The aesthetics. Pay attention to details, which get noticed in small spaces. For example, a key feature in Loblaw’s patio is its herringbone-patterned Belden pavers. 


Is it time to turf your grass?

Site is too shady for grass   
Lay mulches such as bark chips, gravel, polished pebbles, tumbled glass or crushed shells; add a water feature; build a patio complemented by containers of shade-loving plants

Lawn is too labour-intensive   
Plant ornamental grasses, especially mounding—e.g., Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra)—and tufted—e.g., blue fescue (Festuca glauca)—ones; grow easy-care groundcovers: Joel Loblaw recommends white clover or periwinkle; Albert Mondor favours ‘Atropurpurea’ bugleweed (Ajuga reptans ‘Atropurpurea’), dwarf lady’s mantle (Alchemilla erythropoda) and Flashing Light maiden pink (Dianthus deltoides ‘Leuchtfunk’)

View is uninteresting   
Change the level to make raised beds or a sunken garden; surround and highlight a piece of art, statuary or fountain with groundcover plants

To help the environment
Use native and sustainable groundcovers, including bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), creeping mahonia (Mahonia repens), wild sweet William (Phlox divaricata) and Wherry’s foam flower (Tiarella wherryi); create a mini-wildflower meadow or native plant garden; make a vegetable plot.

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