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PLANTING THE SEED

Drought-tolerant landscaper encourages people to xeriscape their yards

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PLANTING THE SEED

Larry Teunissen established No Mow No Mo six years ago, when he ripped the lawn out at his sister’s house and replaced it with bushes, all-in-one fruit trees and boulders.

JAMES BURNS/The Bulletin


POSTED April 12, 2014 1:08 a.m.

In black shades and a Hawaiian button-up, Larry Teunissen is the epitome of beach-boy cool.

The retired pipe layer leans against a post on his front porch, peeking out from the shade. The warm spring sun collects on his face and chest.

“Beautiful day,” he says, stepping down to the edge of his lot.

Teunissen says he can’t stay long. The 59-year-old has got places to be and friends to visit. He relishes his ability to pick up and go at a moment’s notice, especially on days as gorgeous as this. 

It wasn’t always this easy, he said. Too many spring and summertime afternoons were lost to yard work. Too much energy expended pushing a lawnmower or wielding a weed-eater. Untold amounts of money wasted on gas, equipment and water bills.

His points are punctuated by the sounds of mowers, blowers and wood chippers destroying the tranquility of the afternoon.

Teunissen is the owner of No Mow No Mo, a fledgling xeriscaping company. Go figure – the man with the beach-boy vibe loves the dirt. He founded the company on stubborn principle: Teunissen refused to push a mower over the hill in his sister’s front yard. He ripped out of the lawn and replaced it with a drought-resistant, no-lawn landscape, highlighted by colorful bushes and all-in-one fruit trees. 

That was six years ago.

Since then, No Mow No Mo has limped along. Teunissen has transformed just two yards since, including his sister’s neighbor’s front yard.

He doesn’t lament the lack of business, nor is he searching out new customers. Remember, Teunissen is happily retired. He would be content swinging a golf club for the rest of his life, driving range balls off the tops of sawed-off two-liter bottles into the empty lot next door.

His only hope is that people consider xeriscaping their yards during this time of water conservation. He says it can be a cost-effective project, one that could be completed for about a thousand dollars.  

“If you’re looking for real savings,” he said, “this is the greatest way to go. It’s so simple – and you get plenty of color, too.”

Teunissen maintains the two properties on the far east end of Alameda Street. The yards feature an assortment of bushes and trees, each planted with a purpose.

There are cherry, apple, plum, apricot and peach trees, a Chinese Maple, rosemary and a species of grevillea among others. His plants bear fruit and flowers and require little maintenance. 

Teunissen says the yards use about a quarter of the water they once did. The plants are connected to a drip system and a few sprinklers, each turned on and off by hand. 

“When it’s good and soaked,” he said, fidgeting with the valves, “you don’t have to water them for another week or so.”

“Look at all the water you’d be saving,” he added. “As long as you’re not wasting water, that’s a good thing.”

There are other benefits.

Running his hula hoe through the dirt, uprooting a weed and turning the soil, Teunissen points out the simplicity of a yard without lawn.

He no longer has hundreds of dollars in equipment. Just this hoe, a shovel and some weed killer. 

He said those that pay a landscaper to maintain their yards won’t be subject to weekly or biweekly rates. With no lawn to keep trimmed, landscapers can be scheduled once a month. 

“If you’ve got bushes, let them grow,” he said. “Who says you need to keep trimming your bushes back? Let them grow big and then trim them back.”

And then there are the tiny guests that inhabit a yard full of bushes, trees and flowers. Teunissen is talking about the bees, hummingbirds and lizards. As if on cue, a bush near his feet shakes, as one of Teunissen’s scaly friends scurries to safety.

“To me, it’s so refreshing. It simplifies everything. You can go enjoy your weekend,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about gas. You don’t have to worry about wasting water. You can return the mower.”

That’s right – no mow, no mo’. 

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