It kind-of all started last year. After the usual mid-summer outbreak of sod-web worms chewing the grass to raggedy edges in the back yard. Then follow-up rounds of chinch bugs sucking the juices out of the lawn leaving patchy, dead areas.
At that point, it had been roughly a full two years since I gave up my addiction to commercial chemical fertilizers (and pesticides) and opted instead to feed and treat the lawn (and garden)with organic alternatives.
The fusion of all these factors brought me to the decision to quit fighting this predictable annual cycle. As much as possible anyway.
So when the thinning, damaged grass under the oak trees in the back last fall was at its worst, you may recall I created a pathway by removing a wide trail of the green stuff.
Making use of pine straw as the naturalistic covering for the trail it brought to my attention how making subtle changes to an area could give the same area a completely different feel. In keeping with the new-look lots of bromeliads, exotic-looking begonias, large-leaved crinums and bananas along with alocasias were added along the margins of the pathway. The idea was to create many new vignettes along the way.
All of these elements worked together to increase a sense of peacefulness while walking along under the oaks in the back garden.
Creating a naturalistic atmosphere between garden areas throughout is not to be confused with the numerous times lawn turf has been removed just because a new planting bed or veggie bed was in order. Such was the case last July when the front lawn was removed on the street side to create a drought resistant landscape bed. Well, now that I recall there was some pest damage to contend with there also.
I'm not against lawn turf. It has many useful qualities afterall. It serves as a restful break between many planting beds. It lies in wait for family to run, play, chase, and enjoy outdoor games. Even so, we have eliminated a large portion of it over the last few years. This has allowed for more increased habitats for the wildlife and at the same time inhibiting storm water run-off.
The use of pine straw as an alternative ground cover has become a favorite since the initial installation in the tropical pathway. In my mind it is reminescent of a forest floor. In some places such as the new circle garden fine pine and pine straw replaced the newly removed lawn.
Then there are those places where foot traffic wears down the grass. Or we could say troublesome areas where the grass just never seems to do well no matter the consistent efforts made to maintain it.
Such was the case between the house and two planting beds on the north side yard. It is the familiar route to the veggie garden.
An area of grass that struggled year after year. Even to the point of my laying down new sod every spring only to lose it by summers' end repeatedly.
I finally got it. Quit fighting it and come up with an alternate plan. Perfect.
Leaving the sparsely thriving grass in place, to keep from disturbing the micro-organisms growing just underneath, I layered this area with sheets of newspaper, moved the stones from the edge of the closest planting bed more toward the center, and pine straw became the new floor. With the gift of the wrought-iron chair (hugs to Mom) and the placement of a container pot next to it, a previously troublesome area became a focal point and another restful, peaceful place in the garden.
Interesting, too, how learning to work with our conditions rather than against them brings so much more peace of mind to the gardener.
Happy March, fellow gardeners! Spring is here and I wish you many hours of peace in your garden. Meems
Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.