Trying to combine a garden with five dogs that require a play area can be challenging, but one of my favorite gardening books makes it easy. The Southern Living Landscape book is a meat and potatoes guide to landscaping your property. Written by Steve Bender, it's design ideas are accessible and most include a lawn. Page after page of gorgeous gardens framed by lawns spill from its spine. Having lived in the south for almost 10 years, memories of magnificent gardens with grass paths and beautiful front lawns seep like tea into my designs and I find myself unapologetic about the two small patches of green I keep on my property.
A small lawn of cut grass helps us control ticks and the diseases they carry. A weekend spent in bed one spring while a bulls eye rash spread on my thigh was matched by a week spent in tears while one of my dogs fought a deadly tick-borne disease. As I garden and dream, I turn to this book without feeling guilty for my grass. Hand me the scarlet G, if you will, but don't expect remorse.