But what do you do when your neighbor puts in a new paver-laid driveway, a wide swath of concrete steps from the street to the front door, two large fields of stones and - wait for it - two expanses of plastic grass?
Granted, California, where I live, is going through a drought. We have water rationing and it could get worse. The municipal water districts are threatening to stop all outside irrigation. Lawns, the staple of American middle class life, are going brown all over Los Angeles, if they haven't been pulled up already.
So far, the folks on the corner have added no plants to their front yard redo except for a few trees that have been there for decades.
Yes, they took out the lawn and at first I was happy as I saw the daily workers in the yard putting in a pretty patterned driveway and steps making it easier to get to the front door. Then I wanted to cry when I passed by the house on my way to the market earlier this week. Nothing but hardscape.
Of course I can't say anything, and while I wanted to take a shot of the site, I didn't. These stones in the photo above are mine. And yes, I have some stones, rocks and boulders in my yards, along with succulents, California natives and Mediterranean plants. And I am creating a rock garden, or as I might start calling it because I'm an anglophile, a rockery.
But avoiding the drastic problem we're having with less water isn't solved by putting down concrete and plastic. It's only making the issue of urban heat islands worse. It's adding small pieces of plastic that will go down the municipal sewer drain that just happens to be in front of their house and that leads to a local creek which will poison the wildlife and open spaces that surround our houses.
I'm praying that some drought tolerant plants - dare I hope for California natives? - will be going into the rocks soon.
Maybe I should get a yard sign that says "All Pollinators Welcome - Free Lunch."