This spring my family moved into a new rental home and some of you might remember how I told you about a few ways we made small changes for going greener.

Between moving, celebrating two kids’ birthdays and having a third baby, I knew starting a new garden wasn’t very likely to happen this year. Someday, I’d like to primarily have our backyard used for growing food and entertaining, but for now we were simply concerned with weeding the extremely overgrown landscaping.

Soon we realized that –aside from the overgrown, weedy areas– the yard was great for entertaining. It has three different patio areas with a lushly planted center area full of greenery, ferns and flowers. Surrounding are brick pathways and various succulents (even a few cacti!) though, and as pretty parts of the yard are, it’s not the most small-child-friendly space.

Dreaming of a Kid-Friendly Yard

I love gardens and love water-wise, succulent-filled suburban yards, but what we needed for our current life stage was someplace for our kids to crawl and run around a little… a surface soft enough for little knees and wider than a simple pathway to accomodate picnicking and all-around hanging out.

We needed some grass.

But large lawns require lots of water and maintenance, not to mention they are usually treated chemically to keep them looking verdant.

So what’s a green girl to do?

Grass might not be the greenest option (no pun intended) for a yard, but we’ve found that we were able to make a few simple choices to lessen our impact as we planned our lawn.

Size it Up

We realized that we didn’t need a huge space for our lawn. We ended up clearing a nice 320- square foot rectangle in the front yard that was filled with gravel, rocks and oddly-arranged flowers. The rectangle gives enough room for a nice picnic or for the kids to kick around a soccer ball, but it doesn’t “waste” as much water or potential garden space as a large lawn would.

Back or Front?

If we stay in this home for several years, I could see much of the backyard becoming garden space eventually, but the front yard seemed like the perfect area to put in a little grass. It’s protected by some plants, trees and a little fence (that I’m not crazy about, but it does keep little ones out of the street).

Putting our grass in the front also leaves us with a backyard that can someday be for gardening and entertaining, like I dream of.

Doing it Right the First Time

My husband and dad did some serious prep work, reworking the existing sprinklers so that the watering will work as efficiently as possible. With a timer on them, we can schedule our waterings so we don’t over- or under-water.

Prepping the soil by raking and tilling made it more suitable to sustain the grass long-term without having to revive it later with harsher methods.

And starting with fresh sod means nice, thick grass which helps prevent weeds without chemicals. The thinner the grass, the more weeds can pop through, so starting it off thick means we will hopefully deal with this issue less in the future.

I’ll have some more green tips for you next week for taking care of lawns and the non-vegetable-garden areas of your yard.

What’s your yard like– mainly a vegetable garden? A large lawn? A water-wise yard? A patio with potted plants? Or some combination thereof? How do you take care of your yard with green methods?