A Tale of Two Yards

The two houses in these photos are located just a couple doors down from one another. Both houses are right on the beach. They literally have the beach in their backyards! The owners of the home in the top photo have a typical lawn. The owners of the home in the bottom photo chose to leave the existing trees and shrubs in place rather than clear the lot.

These houses front onto a busy highway. The house with the trees gets a free privacy buffer and noise buffer. Interestingly enough, although the lawn obviously has a much lower volume of vegetation, the lawn people probably have to water their yard more than the tree people do. The tree people might not have to water at all! (Actually this lawn doesn’t look too extremely green, like those you see sometimes whose uncannily green color is maintained by massive inputs of water and fertilizer and weed-killer. It looks fairly low-maintenance as lawns go. Still, the trees win hands-down in terms of beauty and functionality!)

Another benefit: The trees to the west shield the house from the fierce afternoon sun, which probably means the tree people don’t need to spend as much money to cool their house as the lawn people do.

Smart people, those tree folks! So much else to do with their time other than maintain a clipped lawn. After all, the beach beckons! … Or the library, or the fishing pier, or the art museum …

They may or may not realize it, but the tree people aren’t just benefiting personally from their landscaping choices; they are also helping to reduce the load on the stormwater infrastructure and protect the land from wind and water erosion. And they are creating a cool moist microclimate which provides habitat for beneficial wildlife as well as making life more comfortable for humans.

A fine example of stacking functions, as we say in permaculture design.