A few years ago I covered my front yard with a layer of flattened cardboard boxes and newspapers. With several pickup loads of chipped wood that I got free from a tree-thinning project at a nearby state park, I covered them up and said good-by to my lawn.
On Craigslist I found a woman giving away river rock for free. I dug up a bunch of common indigenous plants, mostly bunch grasses, that wouldn’t need any watering. It took several days of work over 1-2 months, but doing it entirely myself, and for a total cost of $44.10, most of which was for gas for the pickup I borrowed, I turned my lawn into a nature preserve.
The wood chips I got from the state park had lupine and ponderosa pine seeds that eventually sprouted and made my preserve even more beautiful. The lupines have really proliferated which is good because I like their purple flowers. With each passing year, the plants get thicker.
My front yard has led to a great fringe benefit. Instead of driving for miles when I feel like doing a run in the country, I run in my yard.
I’ve created several routes, and I call my favorite Lupine Lane. It’s a figure 8 on one side of my yard. I usually do it when I want to put in six miles, which means 1,084 laps. Sounds like a lot, but they add up fast.
My second favorite route is Country Fields. It follows the property line around my entire front yard. I like to use it for speed workouts.
When I invite friends over for a group run, we do a course I call Whispering Pines. The trail is wide, and we pass right by the front door, making a detour inside for water convenient.
I really enjoy my front yard preserve. It saves on my utility bill, it’s low-maintenance, and I think it looks prettier than a lawn. However, one thing it is not is a running course. I don’t really go distance running in my front yard. 🙂