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News: Neighborhood Action for Conservation


August 29, 2018

Your next front yard.

Hancock Park Garden Club was distressed over the breakdown of their century-old neighborhood aesthetics and diminished ecosystems so they decided to take action. After a comprehensive study, they produced Your Next Front Yard a booklet addressing the challenge of managing individual aesthetics and neighborhood character, as well as rebuilding healthy ecosystems.

The reality of climate change, years of continuous drought, and changing trends in single-family home landscape design began to take a cultural and environmental toll in the Hancock Park neighborhood located in the heart of Los Angeles. It is a community of historic single-family homes dating back to the early 20th century.

The greater Hancock Park area is known for its varied historic architecture showcasing Mediterranean, Spanish Colonial, French Normandie, English Tudor, and American Colonial styles. Originally, the landscape surrounding these homes was designed with plantings popular in the early 20th century; primarily featuring wide open lawns with a tree or two, and low base plantings. This approach provided a park-like landscape with open views of the homes and their front yards.

After 100 years, many of the lawns are brown from drought conditions and are separated by fencing, shrubbery, circular driveways, and individual gardens. Butterflies and birds are becoming scarce. What has been lost and what was gained? Is there a way to encourage design continuity and still take personal choices and environmental concerns into account?

In 2017 the Hancock Park Garden Club contracted urban designer John Kaliski and landscape architect Takako Tajima to provide research and share concepts on the future of the front lawn in Hancock Park and surrounding communities.

After review of historic photos and documenting the current conditions, the study initiated a dialogue about possible directions for the neighborhood in this era of drought. The illustrative 'guidelines' are available in Your Next Front Yard a booklet available to the public. Design guidelines, prototypical front yard designs, and a Why Plant Native article are included for the home-owner considering making changes in their front yards. From yard to yard, block to block, the Hancock Park Garden Club hopes its booklet will make the neighborhood more sustainable, restore biodiversity of plants and pollinators, and maintain the long ‘park-like’ views that gave the neighborhood its name, Hancock Park.  

Download the GCA’s Position Papers on Climate Change Action and Native Plants

Photo Credits: John Kaliski and Takako Tajima and the Los Angeles Postcard Company.


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