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Since I started my blog, Laguna Dirt, last fall, I've been on the prowl for gardening and landscaping ideas. In my explorations both on land and through cyberspace, I've noticed some trends that I found inspiring, and in many cases, worth joining.

The Lawn-Free Revolution

The idea of ripping out your lush green lawn is no longer limited to fanatical water conservationists or idealistic hippies. Just look around. Homeowners are finally getting it: Lawns are water hogs, require a ton of maintenance and suck up nasty chemicals. Not to mention they are boring. When I see someone who has ripped out some or all of their grass, and replaced it with an interesting mix of succulents, cacti, grasses, rocks, pathways, or other features, I know it has taken a certain amount of courage. Forget all that talk about "going green" and "sustainability." These are people who are just doing something that makes a lot of sense.

The Birds and the Bees

With all the push toward bringing the outdoors in, or indoors out, you can't help but notice the critters that go along with it. Instead of fending them off, the smart people are welcoming them. Whether it's the family who built a backyard chicken coop so they can gather fresh eggs, or the woman who stuck to native plants to attract butterflies and birds, or the couple who built their garden to withstand their four dogs, the trend is to embrace our fellow creatures. There's something really healthy about that.

Artful Gardening

Landscaping is an art form, based on composition, textures, color, focal points, and other classic components. So it's a total mystery why most garden décor has remained doggedly tacky and tasteless. I can't tell if people truly like those pastel-colored banners, or shiny pinwheels, or giant rusty flowers, or whether they don't have better options. Some folks, however, have caught onto the fact that a single sculptural piece can elevate any garden, whether it's a simple trellis powder-coated in Chinese orange, or a giant iron orb or a stack of stainless steel circles. Now if they can just make them more affordable, we could really get somewhere!

Veggies Anywhere

Again, it's so simple, but I went on a tour in Laguna Beach that showed how homeowners were incorporating their vegetables-organic, of course-into their landscaping. Front yards, containers, wherever you have some sun and dirt. And these plantings actually enhanced the overall landscaping! An artichoke mixed with sweet peas, or tomatoes tucked in with some roses, can be literally delicious.


When wandering among the funky homes on a home tour in Venice, California, I loved how the irreverent homeowners-many of them artists and designers--created gardens with so much soul. Sometimes all it took was an old Eames chair painted cobalt blue set on an uneven stone patio, or the legs of a mannequin dangling off a front porch, or a gilded, cracked mirror hanging in a tree. These playful accents reminded me of the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi, which means finding beauty in the imperfect. Time-worn, flawed pieces somehow create a sense of humor and welcoming warmth. What better way to say, "Relax, and hang out with us!"

Landscaping Network

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