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Blades of Glory As these turf tricks prove, grass is good for more than mere lawns.

Far too often, grass gets the short end of the stick. We trample on it, force-feed it fertilizer, and cut the poor stuff within an inch of its life—all while doting on our roses and tomatoes. But focus your attention on sod for a second, and its design potential will sink in. Just consider how groundskeepers have experimented with patterns at ballparks and golf courses for decades. The techniques here deliver drama on a more doable scale: a romantic path through overgrown terrain, a driveway disguised as lush landscaping, the prettiest badminton court possible—three brilliant ways to ensure the grass grows greener on your side of the fence.

60 . COU N T RY L I V I N G.C O M . JULY/AUGUST 2012

Written by Warren Schultz


➤ Court a graceful place to play. After a game of badminton or volleyball, most people tuck the net away in a garage. Los Angeles landscape architect Pamela Burton made it the centerpiece of this outdoor room. Follow her lead by carving out a special spot, planted with resilient turf (tall fescue or Bermuda grass) that contrasts with the surrounding lawn. To prevent the two from mingling, install metal or plastic edging around your court’s perimeter. Then, maintain visual separation with a weekly mowing, at the lowest setting.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY (CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT) GAP PHOTOS, ALLAN MANDELL, DAVE LAURIDSEN

Put the “park” in parking space. The cool checkerboard yard below is actually a driveway, devised using turf pavers (from $2 per square foot; belgard.biz for stores). Basically shallow planters, these interlocking stone blocks can handle heavy traffic and accommodate topsoil and grass seed. You’ll need to plant a durable variety like tall fescue or buffalo grass and, of course, excavate the site before laying the pavers. When it’s time to mow, opt for a high setting.

➤ Mow a painterly path. This passageway looks straight out of a storybook—and re-creating it requires almost no effort. In fact, the first step is simply letting an area grow wild. (If your plot’s bare, ryegrass seed will take care of the problem, fast.) Once the grass reaches great heights, plow a trail through it with a riding mower or weedwacker. From then on, a push mower can keep up appearances. And don’t worry about weed control or water; perfection’s not the point.

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