There's a great story by Adrian Higgins in today's Washington Post titled "Lose the Lawn" – and look at it on the cover of their Local Living section! Here's the introductory story, in which Higgins weighs in with his own conclusion on the subject: "Toss the turf." (As if we weren't already fans of his!)
The article is a glorious, photo-rich spread over three pages, revealing four terrific examples of front gardens without lawns (two of which I showed Adrian when he was in my town on a scouting mission). Plus, he links to the Lawn Reform Coalition and lets me expound briefly on the subject!
Sad to say, the online version botches the story entirely. The photos are mainly separated from the text that describes them, and readers have to sit through an unusually long commercial before seeing the slide show. The poor thing's so sliced and diced, the whole visual impact is lost.
So for your benefit I've compiled links to the four garden stories, because they're hard to find online. First there's the garden in nearby Silver Spring that you see on the cover above. Next, a wildlife-friendly garden in D.C. (though they're ALL wildlife-friendly, to be sure). One of my favorite Takoma Park gardens is by landscape designer Wendy Bell. And the garden I refer to as the best front yard in town is shown below in photos I may have even posted here before. It's the garden of Suzanne Hubbard, designed by Holt Jordan.
What's unique about Higgins's story is the honesty. These four gardeners were motivated far more by their passion for plants and boredom over lawn than even the obvious eco-benefits of the transformation, or a misguided attempt to save time on maintenance. Nowhere is it stated or implied that these gardens are less work than lawns – au contraire! Here's a quote.
Weeding, watering, pruning, plating, mulching, moving plants: All these aspects of cultivating plants are more work than running a mower over weedy grass, but that's what gardening is about.