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Greenbelt Garden Tour with a Theme – “Less Lawn, More Life”

Olsen 1-D Woodland Way overview of garden

Fifteen unique gardens in Old Greenbelt will be on a FREE TOUR this Sunday, September 15 (2013) from 1 to 5 p.m. Thirteen are small 1930s townhouse gardens and two are larger, lake-view gardens just outside the now-cooperatively owned townhouses.  All the gardens have very little or no lawn, with the space being used instead for trees, shrubs, flower borders, patios, paths and more.  So bring your curiosity and notepad and take home ideas for reducing or replacing your lawn, including examples of easy ground covers.

This being early fall, it’s a great time to notice design features and the all-important but not-so-flashy plants like evergreen screening and the aforementioned ground covers.  You’ll also discover plants that bloom in the fall, when they’re most appreciated.  Some of the gardeners have helpfully supplied plant lists!

Tour information – garden descriptions, more photos, some plant lists, but with addresses being added on the day of the tour.  There will also be a custom Google map available on that link on the day of the tour. Or stop by the Greenbelt Museum between 1 and 5 to pick up a printed brochure with addresses, descriptions and a map.

My garden’s on the tour so I’m making excuses early and often for the newness of it and the mistakes I’ll correct next year.  I bet all of us on the tour are fretting about the imperfections, and hustling all week to pretty them up.  It’s all good coz we get to enjoy the result ourselves.


Many, many Greenbelters have worked at Behnkes over the years and some do currently, so there’s a connection.  Plus, they’re just so close.


“Less Lawn” is an important new trend in gardening, and there are lots more suggestions for reducing lawn here on the website of the Lawn Reform Coalition.  Greenbelt’s “Less Lawn Tour” is believed to be the first in the U.S. outside of California, where the shortage of water makes lawns a crazy choice and municipalities are paying residents to get rid of it.

Posted by Susan Harris.

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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