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Southern California Gardening: Rest in Peace Lawn

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

The last wheelbarrow of lawn, installed years before we bought this house, just exited the garden. Hurrah!

Southern California Lawn

My husband, Jeff and I drew simple plans for our bird-and-butterfly garden, then set to work. Two yards of organic topsoil, a half yard of decomposed granite, and a pallet of split ledge rock for borders clotted our driveway and garden for two weeks as we set everything into place. Ibuprofen, anyone?

This past week we’ve planted the small, stone-edged plots with annuals and perennials that are proven attractors of beneficial insects, butterflies and birds. We mounded soil in the beds for Veronicas, salvias and Nepetas, then worked down the sides with small coreopsis, California poppies, mini zinnias, yarrow, yellow-eyed grass (a California native), Gaillardia and strawberries. A zinging palette of golden yellow contrasted with blue purple. Sound like a mishmash? Not if you were a butterfly or bird looking for good pickin’s.

As I worked in the garden, syrphid flies (they look like small bees but are stingless) darted in and out of the Nepeta blooms. A tattered Painted Lady butterfly circled, then landed on the Gaillardia, and half a dozen skippers (they have large bodies, hooked antennae and small wings) moved from bloom to bloom.

To finish the garden we mounted a roofed platform bird feeder on a 6-foot pole, moved a large birdbath to the edge of the garden and installed a bird-attracting water dripper.

I still can’t stand up straight, but every time I hobble through the pathways and see all the activity, I celebrate the changes. Bye-bye, lawn; hello, life!

See more Southern California Gardening Articles.