Quill and Quire

REVIEWS

« Back to
Book Reviews

Front Yard Gardens: Growing More than Grass

by Liz Primeau

Liz Primeau knew something was wrong when she realized that insects and neighbourhood pets avoided her manicured lawn in favour of bushes and shady gardens. When she thought about it, she decided that she couldn’t blame them. Lawns are essentially a monoculture, where a few related species of grass are relentlessly cultivated to the expense of all other life forms. “The problem with a monoculture,” she writes, “is that it discourages visits from insects and animals that can’t benefit in some way from the plant it contains, while attracting those who like to eat it.” Hence the perpetual cycle of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. Primeau also decided that lawns were just not very pleasing to the eye.

For gardeners trying to kick the grass habit, Primeau and photographer Andrew Leyerle have created Front Yard Gardens: Growing More Than Grass, an excellent primer on the rewards and challenges of starting a yard garden. Canadian readers will appreciate Primeau’s tips on starting a lush mini-ecosystem in such difficult climates as Edmonton’s. Varying soil, light, water, and temperature conditions are examined through detailed tours of successful gardens from across North America, and Primeau also includes a lively pocket history of the lawn and its rise to prominence in suburban North America.