Pictured on your left is a small garden I created this afternoon, and at the moment I took this picture my Puggle (whose name is Chauncey Gardiner) already appears to be plotting ways in which he might make mischief.
The centerpiece of this peaceful space is a mound of zebra grass, and I added a few Asian lilies around the outside. These I picked up inexpensively at Home Depot, where the approaching end of summer means that perennials can be snatched up at ridiculously low prices (the lilies were four for $12). This is like renting a mens tuxedo for a couple of Benjamin Franklins in the weeks after prom and wedding season.
I dug up the slabs of rock from underneath a section of my lawn. A former owner apparently despised ground cover in the form of living plants, and there are untold dozens of chunks of limestone and sandstone slabs yet to be excavated that once served as walkways and perhaps a patio.
My ultimate goal on my one-third acre double lot is to transcend the standard urban lawn in favor of a multitude of such small garden that will be interspersed with grass walkways. There is a twofold purpose to this plan: I will create a variety of eye-catching perennial gardens that need little maintenance, and I will eventually leave only a few walkways that need to be mowed.
This is the ultimate in sustainability, as I will cultivate plants that need little attention while "sustaining" my body in my later years (we plan to live in this house a long time). The idea of having to mow these hundreds of square yards of lawn in my seventies does not appeal to me.
Heck - I am already losing my motivation to mow.