Swearing off grass for good

I’m giving up grass once and for all. I’m through with that. The things I have had to do in my life to manage a serious grass habit have worn thin, the trade offs are no longer worth it, and it’s time to get straight.

As with all habits, the problem is in finding a substitute. Something has to fill the space. Also, it was easier to get fine, green premium grade stuff in Michigan. The supply is unbelievably short in Chicago and down here in Florida all the grass appears to be laced with really bad stuff, like something the Walmart Easter bunny would dream up. What to do, what to do?

Our Florida place is a second home. It started as a real estate investment but then we decided we loved the place too much to let anyone we didn’t know use it. Soon, we decided to make it nicer with an addition and now I’m thinking, well, maybe Chicago can be the second home. The one I use May through September.

The addition decimated the yard, what little there was. Fairly early on I figured that was just as well because I wanted to try my hand at xeriscaping and I wanted to go native. Clearly, grass is not well adapted to this climate and the amount of water it takes to keep it going is just plain wrong. In letting go of our half acre in Ann Arbor and the cottage at Wit’s End, the good news is that we use a smaller footprint. We take up less space, rarely drive anywhere, use less heating fuel and so forth. Planting a yard full of thirsty grass would be going in the wrong direction.

Still, I need my fix. If not grass, then really good substitutes. I’ve been on a crash course, learning about what grows here naturally, what’s invasive (many things, really) and what can be grown that fits the parameters of xeriscape philosophy and still is pleasing to my gardener’s eye. One thing I’ve discovered is that a lot of plants that look good up top or from a distance are very very pokey up close.

Since arriving I’ve been going to nurseries, looking up local native gardeners and bicycling about the neighborhood taking pictures of grass free yards that have plantings I like. Then I come home, look at the pictures and research the plants. FC has suggested Coontie as a good place to start and I’m hot on the trail of some of those.

Here are a couple of pictures of a yard down the street that has great landscaping. It sort of walks the line between low water, some water plantings. I love the giant tree ferns; I also like the succulent stuff growing around the edges. I "borrowed"  some that was hanging over the sidewalk edge and brought it home. I’ve whacked it into pieces and dipped them in rootone and they’re now residing in a tray out back. (Homegrown is always better, yes?)

Tomorrow morning the irrigation guy comes. This place used to have an extensive system with 5 or 6 zones and many of those got torn up in the process of adding on. My thinking at this point is I’m going to try and get it down to two small zones that utilize drip hoses rather than sprinkler system so I can have some lush stuff up near the house and then, moving out into the yard, plant things that can be self sustaining in the natural climate. The one we used to have. I have a feeling the irrigation guy thinks he will persuade me otherwise but no. It’s not gonna happen. Wouldn’t be prudent.

So help me, I’ve made a firm commitment to stay off grass for the rest of my life.Nograss

12 responses to “Swearing off grass for good

  1. Just when many blogs are going to pot, you light up my life with this post, Vicki. Your fresh toke on getting away from grass is only one reason why your posts are addictive. But, was my neighbor, Herb, wrong when he assured me that having no grass would make me love weeds more?

    Perhaps you could hang a hemp macramé pot for another substitute. I’ve also heard that many gardeners love using the light weight Weed-Ho.

  2. Would that I had the quick wit of Mary Jane. Is she a budding blogger? She certainly was on her tokes responding to this post.

    I, too, have been trying to swear off grass since we moved to Seattle. It’s not nearly as easy as I’d thought it would be. While grass requires watering to stay green through our summers, it happily grows up through the permamoss during the fall, winter and spring. I could kill the moss and have a lawn to water, but why? This year, I think I’ll wipe out all the front yard vegetation with the black plastic treatment, and then start over with native groundcovers, blueberry bushes, kiwi vines, and perhaps a dwarf apple tree or two.

  3. St. Petersburg-ite wannabe...

    That first photo really has some nice plants in it. I love the Stag’s Horn hanging from the tree. That yard is gorgeous. With all the research you are doing I’m confident your yard will turn out great. Grass is a lot of work. Ours always has some sort of fungus, brown spots, snow burn or something here in Southern Pennsylvania. Such fun…What you are doing sounds like a lot more fun.

  4. I was all set to leave an intelligent sounding comment, but after reading Mary Jane’s I am not able to say much, except bravo to her – and to you for not bending to the irrigation gods. I really love it that you are posting more!

  5. Oh, I was too late for the party….LOL. I should have clicked on “Mary Jane’s” site before I left the first comment…..too funny!

  6. HA! Bonnie kills me. But how does she know so much about drug slang, HMMMMM?

  7. Mary Jane was BONNIE? Wow. I love our grass, but don’t have to worry about watering it most of the year. And I enjoy mowing nice lines in it.

  8. I have enough grass for the both of us. I can’t wait to see what you do with a clean slate to landscape. I am not a very good designer of fresh spaces outdoors. And I second what Miz S said.

  9. Mary Jane was Bonnie? Wow! Did she have to Google “grass” to get all of that?

    If you don’t want grass plant pumpkin seeds….. ground cover with wonderful color in the fall. (Wink)

    Nyssa has two more weeks. She goes back on the 19th, and the other students come back on the 24th. They didn’t get out of finals until December 22nd…. something about the 400th anniversary of Jamestown and celebrations and excessive traffic in Williamsburg and not wanting the extra security hassles with kids on campus.

  10. I often think Bonnie, aka Mary Jane, is too funny and full of mischief to be so good. That’s what I think. Now I find out she knows how to swear in Italian. Why am I not surprised?

  11. Just because you swear off grass, does not mean you have to give up pot. Lots and lots of pot. Preferably in Terre Cotta. Or glazed ceramics. Just sayin’.

  12. Gingers are pretty carefree too with nice tropical foliage and the occasional amazing bloom. I don’t give mine much extra water and they seem to thrive.

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