I recently read a post by Kathryn of Diary of a Smart Chick over at Houzz. She created an inspiring if a little un-PC – at least in the landscape design world – post that featured lawns (kind of celebrating them more than is considered acceptable in the current water-wise and resource protective world that we live in). The Idea book is worth checking out though because there are some interesting and perhaps inspiring shots. While many of the examples are what I would encourage clients NOT to do, I think that, in the landscape industry, grass is perhaps getting a bit of a bum wrap.
Her post got me thinking about all the great fun ways to play with grass and lawns to make something much more interesting than just a big flat green space. I also started thinking about how really, lawns and grass are the best design solution in some places and that perhaps it is overuse and ubiquity that is getting us. It inspired me to have a peruse through Flickr to find some interesting lawn images that perhaps could help me make a case for lawns not being completely evil.
Grass can grow in a lot of strange places, it is really interesting to think about all the possible grass covered garden features. This picture was taken by Mister Rad outside the Hotel de Ville in Paris.
I am not sure what it would take to successfully create a grass feature like this one, but now I think I might need to figure it out… image by Marachka
This mix of creeping thyme and Imperata Rubra (Japanese blood grass) is really striking. While I would be concerned about the inevitability of the grass escaping the confines of the design, I think that this is a great water wise idea for the no-mans land between the sidewalk and the road. A great design by jacki-dee
Grassy lawny or not, I really just love this. It’s a completely cool mix of modern design with traditional Japanese garden design. According to lao_ren100 (Loren) , the grass and paver pattern is similar to that of the Tofuku-ji hojo in Kyoto as designed by Mirei Shigemori. This was taken at thhe Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island, Washington and was designed by Dr. Koichi Kawana of the University of California, and the main section by Fujitaro Kubota.
This image was taken by archidave at the now defunct Westonbirt Festival of Gardens. It’s a lawn, but in a completely re-imagined way.
This design, created by Sandeep_8 is one of the prettiest most inviting driveways I have seen. To me, cars are an annoying necessity of most American lives. All the accessories that go along with them (like car parks, driveways and mechanics) are things I would rather not have to live with. So disguising access to your garage with an interesting and green design is certainly appealing.
I like this image of an alternative to a fire lane by Richard Reynolds.– “Reinforced concrete grass surrounds the tower blocks of Rowstock Gardens in Camden, so that fire engines don’t sink into the mud if attending an emergency in the buildings. ”
I include this, because while it is not actually grass, it is certainly seems inspired by it. It is a path through the iris garden at the Kyoto Botanical Gardens and was taken by apc33.
To me, a perfect lawn is a complete triumph over nature that in order to achieve, requires an effort and constant struggle that I would rather not involve myself with. This lawn at Powerscourt Gardens however, was created some 300 years ago and is so perfect that it is considered one of the best in the world. When I consider the fact that the horticultural effort required to achieve this is similar to that of an ancient bonsai tree, I can certainly justify it’s maintenance and historical preservation.
Image by cryomedic
Similarly this garden at the The Castle of Gourdon in Provence, France is a historical masterpiece. The perfectly shaped shrubs combine with the perfect lawn to allow for the creation of crisp shadows. The geometric perfection is completely serene. This garden was designed by Le Notre, Louix XIV’s gardener who also did Versailles park.
Image by Feuillu.
In this garden by HelgaB the grass seems to replace a small garden pond. The shape weaves softly and rather than being the central point of the garden it is a gracious path, a foil for the flowers and it provides a backbone of structure to the space.
The Toronto Music Garden by hogan3774 is the type of grass garden my children dream of. They see pictures like this and imagine walking through the forest of grass always seeking what is around the next un-viewable corner. Grass like this (unlike lawns) moves and changes with the season and provides an opportunity to create vertical interest.
This image taken by tina_manthorpe at Easton Gardens is an image of my own personal ideal lawn. My perfect lawn in comprised of grass that looks as beautiful when not mowed as it does sheared. It can create a beautiful flowy grass meadow. When I feel like it, I can mow a simple path through it and create something entirely new. My perfect lawn always is less than perfect. I like a little clover, some small flowers here and there (maybe even purposely under-planted with some snowdrops or early crocus) and a bit of weedy naturalness.
This picture by annkelliott of Jim Coutts’ amazing homestead garden, near Nanton, in southern Alberta, is an inspiring shot of lawn taking on another use, like pathway to create one of the mose peaceful country gardens I can imagine.
Are you convinced? I mean, provided you don’t have to water it like crazy and you can live with chemical free imperfections, I think that lawns have a continued place in garden design.