When we first began converting our front lawn into a front-yard garden, we were, admittedly, ruthless (to the transplants) because we were SO focused on killing the grass (organically) and planting just a very few extremely hardy and drought-tolerant things instead.
When I say ruthless—some might say sadistic--I mean that I would plant some poor thing at noon in mid-August in crummy soil, water it for a few days and, if it didn’t ultimately survive, I crossed it off my “acceptable” list. Then we got some professional advice, after 5 years.
Jackie of seed garden design helped us pull things together and taught us that we couldn’t just KILL the grass; we had to REPLACE it with something. We had originally thought we could get away with replacing the dead grass with a ton of mulch or even just patches of bare dirt. She also showed us, among other things, how to add some richer topsoil along with our mulch.
So until recently, we didn’t feel we even had the LUXURY of paying much attention to the overall picture and art of things, a concept I now think should always be somewhat dynamic anyway. We still struggle with extracting nutgrass every week, but we’re finally feeling a little freer to play around with the whole design of our front-yard garden. And we’ve still managed to not own a lawnmower.