Grass Burning: Inspired by Cal Lane

burned grass patterns by cal lane

Cal Lane’s art inspires me to no end.  She is certainly, at least in part, some of the inspiration behind what will be my summer 2011 barn mural project, and if I could have one of her projects installed in my garden I would be eternally happy.  I am hugely envious of whoever this homeowner is.  Not only did Cal put her 1000 gallon filigree cut oil tank sculpture in the garden but she continued the pattern into the grass. (with the use of a hand torch)

cal lane oil tanker filigree spill on grass

I have so many questions about the usefulness of this technique in making a lawn more interesting.  How long does the effect last?  if I torched some grass like this, what precautions would I need to take to prevent an out of control grass fire?  And I wonder if it would work to do this and then plan some other sort of mowable seed, to make for a contrasty texture sort of design?  How would I maintain it, or would I have to assume it to be a fleeting effect? Would this be a useful trick for a garden party message? perhaps a garden wedding decoration? This is giving me so many thoughts….just how I like my inspiration.

I think as soon as some of this snow melts I will start experimenting…..

cal lanne burning grass

images by Canary Promotion

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Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.


  1. Brianna {RMV} on January 21, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    It seems like you could get the same effect, though much slower, by laying objects on your lawn in a pattern. Maybe a polka dot lawn made from coffee cans?

  2. Jenn on January 21, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Nature abhors a vacuum. In days that space will be full of weeds. Sad, but true.

  3. Megan on January 21, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Bizarro! I’d love to see the burned out areas planted with a different type of grass.

  4. Nell Jean on January 21, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    This is certainly one of those efforts in which ‘your milage may vary.’ Perennial grass that is simply burned off will resprout quickly. If the roots are burned, I expect in my climate to see weed seeds sprout as Jenn said above.

    Dead grass burns like the proverbial wildfire. Green grass hardly at all if the ground is damp. It will be interesting to see more answers to your questions.

  5. Susan aka Miss R on January 22, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Absolutely beautiful and inspirational. LOVE IT!

  6. Laguna Dirt on January 22, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    that’s crazy! love it. i think it would be fun to then plant succulents or some other plant in the burned out paths, and see what happens. such imagination!

  7. Steino on January 23, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Thats fantastic. I would plant Geophyten like crocus and grasses in the burned out places.

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