Lou and Dell Salza’s front yard in Shaker Heights, Ohio, is living proof that a garden can be both beautiful and ecologically functional. Making the most of a modestly sized front lawn, designers Sabrena Schweyer and Samuel Salzbury of Salzbury Schweyer Landscape Design created a comfortable outdoor living space that tastefully incorporates permaculture principles and environmentally friendly rainwater management systems. Each plant that was chosen for this landscape has a function and a purpose. Perennials, shrubs, and spring-flowering bulbs provide a succession of blooms that attract plenty of pollinators throughout the growing season. There are edible fruits and berries, and many native plants that support and shelter insect larvae, birds, and other wildlife. An herb spiral is situated close to the sidewalk, and neighbors are encouraged to harvest fresh herbs whenever they wish.
Departure from a “normal” front yard
Most front lawns in this historic suburban neighborhood look very similar, with expanses of turfgrass punctuated by gracious street trees and perhaps a few manicured shrubs. In contrast, the Salzas’ front garden is filled with lush colors and textures, demonstrating the full potential of a successful lawn replacement. There is one small circle of turf beneath a tree swing that is frequented by children from the neighborhood. This higher-traffic area of the garden was seeded with a low-mow mix of slow-growing species that are shade tolerant and that require less mowing, watering, and fertilizer than typical turf.
Eco-friendly features double the impact
This mindful garden design also has many features that keep stormwater on site rather than running off into the often-overwhelmed municipal storm sewers. When it rains, water from the home’s roof is collected in a series of rain barrels and can be used for watering the garden during dry periods. If the rain barrels fill to capacity, excess water is directed into a rain garden, where it can seep into the ground gradually. Densely planted garden beds naturally absorb more water than a shallow-rooted suburban lawn. The asphalt driveway has been replaced with a permeable paving system installed over a deep gravel base that allows water to infiltrate the soil.