A water-efficient lawn in Seattle
So Long, Lawn
Jim McCausland
After stripping much of the lawn Stacie Crooks installed a mix of perennials grasses and shrubs.

Lawns demand about an inch of water each week during the growing season. That was too much for Seattle-based landscape designer Stacie Crooks of Crooks Garden Design. She knew she could create a traffic-stopping tapestry of plants that would survive on half the water. So one spring, she ripped out much of her lawn and replaced it with a mixture of perennials and shrubs. Since her property is situated on a moderate slope, passersby now enjoy a sweeping view of the garden from the street below. And the bed looks great year-round.

Crooks used a rented sod cutter to remove unwanted sections of turf. She stacked the sod beside the street and posted a “free” sign; it was gone in five hours.

Next, she tilled a 6-inch layer of planting mix (a commercial blend of compost, ground bark, peat moss, and sand) into the soil, removing roots and large rocks as she worked.

Finally, Crooks planted sweeps of perennials and shrubs. Most of the perennials were spaced at 6- to 8-inch intervals; some organic fertilizer (a 5-5-5 formula) was added to each planting hole. Contact Crooks at crooksgardens@aol.com.


Evergreen shrubs provide year-round structure and seasonal color.

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ‘Victoria’, blue spring flowers.

Senecio greyi ‘Sunshine’, silvery foliage.

Viburnum davidii, metallic purple winter fruit; V. tinus ‘Spring Bouquet’, white winter flowers.

Grassy foliage plants give the garden year-round structure.

• Blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens).

• Variegated Japanese sedge (Carex morrowii expallida).

Phormium ‘Apricot Beauty’.

Perennials form the colorful heart of the garden.

Aster x frikartii, lavender fall blooms.

Euphorbia characias wulfenii and E. x martinii, chartreuse blooms in spring.

Penstemon x gloxinioides ‘Alice Hindley’ (pale lilac), ‘Sour Grapes’ (violet-red); summer blooms.

Phygelius x rectus ‘African Queen’ (terra-cotta orange), ‘Moonraker’ (pale yellow); summer to fall blooms.

Rudbeckia fulgida sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’, yellow flowers in summer.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, raspberry fall flowers.

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