What not to do

When we moved into our Albuquerque house in 2006, it was easy to live in denial. Seven months of severe drought had rendered the yard a seemingly blank slate. We definitely had not purchased a house with a lawn. Absolutely not. When monsoon season arrived it became more difficult to maintain that state of denial. The Bermuda grass miraculously regenerated, rapidly turning into a thick expanding mat.

August 2006

So, despite reading all sorts of sound advice that advocated converting a traditional landscape to a Xeriscape in stages, choosing small projects that could be accomplished in a single season, I purchased a pickaxe and, in my stubborn way, decided to eradicate all the grass in the front yard as soon as possible. Needless to say, I quickly became known as the insane new neighbor. Each time it rained I had a three or four day window of opportunity as the impenetrable hard packed clay was temporarily rendered into a slippery, but workable, mess. I would work late into the evening chopping out sections of grass and moving around piles of dirt to create a system of swales and berms. Twenty-two months later, I’m still not quite done.

April 2008

There punch line to this story. Due to my involvement with the Xeric Garden Club of Albuquerque, I frequently receive calls and email from folks looking for advice on converting their own yards. And yet here I am a stunning example of what not to do. . .

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