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Owner

Shelley

City

Boulder

Skill Set

Intermediate

Project Size

1,000+ sq ft

Project Location

Backyard

Sun Exposure

Full sun

Year Completed

2022

Time Commitment

More than 40 hours of labor

Project Cost

less than $500

Other Project Elements

Drip irrigation system, Pathways, Veggie gardens, Patio/sitting areas, Native or drought-tolerant plants

Resource Central Programs

None

Advice from the Owner

In the last 2 1/2 months I’ve able to remove the remaining grass areas in my front, side and back yard. Using the sod, I then created raised garden rows in the back yard and leveled the sloping side yard for a new walkway. ( At this point the raised mounds of sod in the back looked a bit like a body farm!) In the front yard, I created a flagstone patio, connecting it to the backyard with a flagstone walkway. The patio and walkway were finished within 1 1/2 weeks of beginning the project. After amending the soil in the newly created garden rows with compost, worm castings and Biochar, I covered all the garden areas with recycled cardboard. At the end of May a large at-risk willow tree was removed from the back yard. This not only flooded the yard with light, it also provided mulch for the entire garden. The lawn sprinklers were converted to drip irrigation for the garden beds and eliminated in the front yard patio area. Once mulched, I planted the backyard garden rows with a variety of winter and summer squashes from seed, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, artichokes, potatoes, herbs and flowers. Aware that some of the soil’s nitrogen might initially be tied up as the soil bacteria worked on the freshly cut wood chips, I’ve been conscious of regularly fertilizing the yard with green fertilizer I make from nettles and comfrey in addition to liquid seaweed. I believe the layer of cardboard separating the wood chips from the soil along with the addition of compost and worm castings have served to protect the soil. However, I haven’t had luck with bush beans or some of the flowers I’ve tried seeding. I’m confident they’ll do much better next year. It’s now 2 1/2 months since I began the project at the end of April and I’m already harvesting strawberries, zucchini, patty pan squash, peppers, basil, parsley, rosemary, shiso, thyme, lemon verbena, oregano and more from the new garden. In addition, there’s a beautiful new patio area in the front yard connecting to the backyard via a level flagstone walk. Much of the cost of the project has been covered by what I would have spent on lawn maintenance for the year. By reusing the sod, I’ve been able to save my yard’s topsoil and put it to use growing more veggies. Piling the sod upside down in rows also meant I wasn’t forced to use chemicals or plastic to kill the grass first. I also didn’t use any landscaping fabric under the patio or walkway, just breeze and flagstone. Some tenacious weeds do find their way through, but a once a week spray with horticultural vinegar keeps them under control and by next year, I don’t expect they’ll be a problem. The sod removal and piling along with the construction of the walkway and patio were done with the help of a great all-round local handyman, who also helped me add the mulch to the gardens. Everything else I’ve done myself. Snow and waiting for the tree to be removed slowed things down by a few weeks. From beginning to eating, this entire project realistically be completed in under 2 months. I’m already planning what I’ll plant next year!

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Owner

Adam

City

Boulder

Skill Set

Intermediate

Project Size

250 - 500 sq ft

Project Location

Backyard

Sun Exposure

Full sun

Year Completed

2021

Time Commitment

11 - 20 hours of labor

Project Cost

less than $500

Other Project Elements

Native or drought-tolerant plants, Drip irrigation system, Retaining walls, Patio/sitting areas

Advice from the Owner

The plants grow much bigger than you think! So pay attention to the spacing guidelines...

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Owner

Elisabeth

City

Boulder

Skill Set

Intermediate

Project Size

250 - 500 sq ft

Project Location

Front yard

Sun Exposure

Full sun

Year Completed

2021

Time Commitment

More than 40 hours of labor

Project Cost

less than $500

Other Project Elements

Native or drought-tolerant plants, Drip irrigation system, Pathways, Berm/swale, Boulders

Advice from the Owner

We absolutely love our new front yard! It was positively abuzz with butterflies and bees once the blossoms started appearing. It's nice to have so much color and depth throughout the season as each plant blooms at a slightly different time. I am very much a beginner in the gardening area, while my husband is more of an expert, which was incredibly important in the drip irrigation conversion process. That process took much longer than we had anticipated and was more expensive because of the size of our yard/conversion. I wish I would've spent more time looking at the plans (from Garden In A Box) and ensuring there was plenty of room between the plants, but most everyone has said I can move them if they get too big (with a few exceptions).

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Owner

Deb

City

Boulder

Skill Set

Intermediate

Project Size

500 - 750 sq ft

Project Location

Front yard

Sun Exposure

Full sun

Year Completed

2021

Time Commitment

less than 10 hours of labor

Project Cost

less than $500

Other Project Elements

Native or drought-tolerant plants, Drip irrigation system, Berm/swale, Shrubs, Pathways

Resource Central Programs

Garden In A Box, Grass to Garden, Slow the Flow

Advice from the Owner

I love the look of the rich brown mulch in place of the thirsty, sometimes green grass. It's a great backdrop for the bright and varied perennial plants and decorative grasses already in place, in addition to those added from the Garden in a Box shade selection. This summer (2021) has had numerous record hot days. During that time watering or assessing each new addition for the need to be watered has been important on a very regular basis - often in early June two to three times a day due to our very early heatwave. However, I have been more than happy to trade the care and time related to establishing this lovely, varied selection of plants provided by the Grass to Garden program in place of the time and effort of weekly mowing, watering, and at times fertilizing a lawn that wasn’t giving back the beauty I now enjoy.

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Owner

Cate

City

Boulder

Skill Set

Beginner

Project Size

250 - 500 sq ft

Project Location

Front yard

Sun Exposure

Full sun

Year Completed

2020

Time Commitment

less than 10 hours of labor

Project Cost

less than $500

Other Project Elements

Native or drought-tolerant plants, Patio/sitting areas, Berm/swale, Shrubs

Resource Central Programs

Grass to Garden, Garden In A Box

Advice from the Owner

This was a great project that we did on evenings and weekends over the course of the summer. The Grass to Garden program opened Pandora's box for us in the garden and we ended up doing a lot more than we anticipated. We used compost to mix into the dirt from a local farm, an old leaky hose as irrigation and poked holes in it near all of the plants, cardboard to sheet mulch between and around the plants to avoid weeds, and then contacted arborists and had them drop off loads of mulch to cover around/between plants. So far this still takes weekly weeding in the summer for bindweed but is a beautiful garden and quite therapeutic!

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Owner

Yuchen

City

Boulder

Skill Set

Intermediate

Project Size

750 - 1,000 sq ft

Project Location

Front yard

Sun Exposure

Full sun

Year Completed

2020

Time Commitment

21 - 30 hours of labor

Project Cost

less than $500

Other Project Elements

Pathways, Low water/xeric plants, Boulders

Resource Central Programs

Grass to Garden

Advice from the Owner

We kept the black plastic on for 4.5 months and so far no grass has re-surfaced. Also, make sure to seal the edges as tight as possible with wood /rocks or bricks in order to keep the air and sunlight out. Once the plastic is off, we’ve spread mulch generously about 3/4” deep.

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Owner

Neesha

City

Boulder

Skill Set

Intermediate

Project Size

250 - 500 sq ft

Project Location

Front yard

Sun Exposure

Full sun

Year Completed

2020

Time Commitment

21 - 30 hours of labor

Project Cost

less than $500

Other Project Elements

Drip irrigation system

Resource Central Programs

Grass to Garden

Advice from the Owner

The Grass to Garden project was such a helpful way to affordably convert our lawn to a native, xeric, pollinator-friendly garden. We only spent money on our drip irrigation system. We did all the labor by hand. Additionally, we used old newspapers as anti-weed lining, and covered that with mulch from the City of Boulder's free mulch pile. The pink cloud bloom multiple times through the summer and it made me so happy to have the two different native geraniums-- I got to see them bloom in our front yard and on mountain trails!

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Owner

Federico

City

Boulder

Skill Set

Intermediate

Project Size

250 - 500 sq ft

Project Location

Front yard

Sun Exposure

Full sun

Year Completed

2020

Time Commitment

31 - 40 hours of labor

Project Cost

less than $500

Other Project Elements

Drip irrigation system, Raised/tiered beds, Pathways

Resource Central Programs

Grass to Garden

Advice from the Owner

I like perennial flowers much more than lawn!

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Owner

Susi

City

Boulder

Skill Set

Beginner

Project Size

250 - 500 sq ft

Project Location

Front yard

Sun Exposure

Full sun

Year Completed

2018

Time Commitment

31 - 40 hours of labor

Project Cost

Less than $500

Other Project Elements

Pathways, Rain Garden, Berm/swale, Low water/xeric plants

Resource Central Programs

Lawn Removal Consultation, Garden In A Box

Advice from the Owner

Just take it one step at a time. It was some work but it was well worth it. My main piece of advice is to have someone else remove the grass. I wish I had hired someone for that piece of the project. I love seeing all the bees, butterflies and birds that the plants attract. And, of course, the diversity of plants and flowers is much more beautiful and interesting that the lawn was!

Watch the interview with Susi

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Owner

Amanda

City

Boulder

Skill Set

Beginner

Project Size

1,000+ sq ft

Project Location

Sidewalk yard

Sun Exposure

Full sun

Year Completed

2017, 2019

Time Commitment

10 hours of labor or less

Project Cost

Less than $500

Other Project Elements

Drip irrigation system, Retaining walls, Berm/swale, Other

Advice from the Owner

There are a lot of great things about our new landscaping! This includes our water usage being reduced significantly and utilizing the strips of unused land between the street and sidewalk (aka tree lawn) of a large city corner lot. The Garden In A Box plants are all native and drought resistant - which means they will thrive with basic care. Additionally, we are thrilled with the descriptions of each plant and design plans that came with the boxes. We participated in the Slow the Flow program, Garden In A Box and the Lawn Removal Consultation.

Watch the interview with Amanda

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Design Ideas

Struggling with coming up with yard design concepts? Check out what other Waterwise participants  have done.

Join your neighbors and have your very own Waterwise Yard!

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