Lose the Lawn: Before and After in Menlo Park, CA
With its boring lawn, scratchy hedge, and dying camphor tree, garden designer Marilyn Waterman’s yard in Menlo Park, California, “had no soul,” she says. So she created her version of a homestead, mixing edible and ornamental plants.
“When I took out the lawn, the neighbors said, ‘We could never do that. Our kids need the grass,’” says Waterman. “But the kids always come over here to skip along the paths or pick apples. There’s way more to do in this yard.”Fencing
Waterman tapped into her roots—she spent her summers visiting her father’s homestead in Colorado—for her new front yard. “I wanted it rough, like a ranch—and not a fancy ranch,” she says.Plantings
Waterman tucks in edibles everywhere: a ‘Red Fuji’ apple tree, blueberries, strawberries, a ‘Meyer’ lemon tree, and herbs. She also loves water-wise succulents and ornamental grasses.Accents
Even the boulders, which Waterman hauled from a stone yard, fit her ranch theme—she imagines rattlesnakes napping on them. But they’re functional too; the level surface makes them a useful resting spot for a person, pruners, or cup of coffee.Water savings
Choosing tough, drought-tolerant plants and installing a drip system cut water use by 20 percent. During the dry summers, the garden gets watered three times a week for just 10 minutes, or slightly longer during a heat wave.