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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Exchanging More Turf for Plants: Update

This post was originally published on Wednesday, July 8. An update was added at the bottom of the post on Friday, July 10. Thank you for following along.

If you live in Florida it's that time of year when all the heavy gardening should be complete. Gardeners should be finding relief in the comfort of air conditioning or the pool or in an ice bucket... whichever is more convenient.

After all who, in their right mind, would choose to garden in 90+ temps and 100% humidity! Not this gardener I can tell you. But, we can't do anything about the weather now can we?

Every year my spring timeline for gardening projects starts in January with the goal to be finished with all of them by the end of May. We can assuredly count on some wicked temperature highs in June.

So as June melds into July the ideal plan is garden maintenance mode... the things that must be done in order to keep things in order. No new projects for sure.

Basically by the time summer officially arrives I'm weary from months of rigorous gardening. When the relentless July/August summer heat sets in I'm more than willing to keep the garden chores as simple as possible.

I confess it has only been in the last month or so that I've felt like the garden made its full comeback from the freezes we experienced in January. Some of the cordylines have not fully recovered and the Jatropha trees have not filled out but at least they are giving it their best effort.

All that to say, this July I have not slowed down in the garden.

Every year while spring projects are the focus, not to mention the time the veggie garden requires, I have lists of tweaks I'd like to do 'if I ever get around to it'. Only it gets too hot, too fast and many things on that list get rolled-over to the fall list.

This year has been different.

I've taken up plenty of turf in the back garden this year. And for some reason I haven't managed to even post about them... but I'll get to it eventually.

I'm also actually getting to the 'if I ever get around to it' list or at least some of it anyway. Along with moving plants and still dividing plants and starting even more new cuttings and trimming this and trimming that...

Like a crazy, mad, gardening woman I began a new front lawn project last weekend.

This area has been troublesome for a long time. The front lawn slopes down to the road and even with an irrigation system it is difficult at best to provide the correct levels of water. One of the issues that has kept me from diving into this project is there are cables and wires running under the ground here. Yikes.

And another one is that it is a large project. What I've measured off to cut out on the roadside is over 30 feet long and the side that joins my neighbor is 25 feet long.

It's a sunny corner in the afternoons so the plant choices will be subject to very different considerations than the rest of the mostly shady yard.

The overall plan for this corner is to use all Florida Friendly and native plants. Some will be divisions from my garden, some will be plants I've rooted already, some will need to be purchased.

Here's where I've gotten so far. I've left the strip of lawn next to the gutter until I'm ready to plant it out. I'd hate to lose my soil to the gutter with a big downpour.

What do you think? Maybe I'll be done in another week? I'm working early mornings and late evenings to avoid the mid-day and afternoon sun. Then I move around to the back garden where it is nice and shady.

Update: July 10, 2009, Friday

I'm lacking enough time to write another post so I'm updating this one (originally posted Wednesday, July 8, 2009).

Other than the strip of barrier lawn at the street which will come out when I'm ready to plant there-- the last of the sod was removed yesterday morning. There were other commitments that kept me from gardening all day (read:grandchildren for the day) but I got right back to it this morning early. Even though I was rained out by noon I managed to dig up some plants from the back yard, divided and planted them. I'm feeling like I have a much better idea of where I'm going design-wise but still have some decisions to make. There is purple muhly grass involved.

I'll do my best to post again when it is finished.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.


  1. Wow! Your yard is so pretty. I love your caladiums! That is a big bed you made. I live in SC and the heat is on here, too. So what do I do?? Divide and move plants as hard as I can. However, I am formulating a plan for less turf and more plants for next year. It is so exciting to see all these pictures on blogs and gather ideas.

  2. Looks great, Meems... My hubby would say to go for it. Anything he doesn't have to mow is GREAT.. In fact, he is working on a new project along our front ditch. Mowing that steep ditch is becoming harder and harder. Of course, we are not getting old yet!!!! ha ha....

    Keep us posted... It looks GREAT.

  3. I love the curved shape. I'm just getting ready to expand a bed, not too much bigger, and am always glad to get rid of grass for more plants. The worst part is getting rid of the grass. How are you doing it? I bet it's going to be gorgeous like the rest of your yard!

  4. I think your agrden looks great! And the shape of the new bed... real nice. I love to see you finish that =)

  5. I think you are a work horse. I am such a weenie I wouldn't be out there in the heat ripping up sod. It will be a work of art when you are finished as is the rest of your garden. I can't wait to see the finished planting. What all are you planting?? What natives??

  6. Your gardens look great despite the high temps. Removing that sod is one heck of a job. Love the shape and I Know it will be another beautiful area in your yard.

  7. I hadn't realised you had such a big front garden, Meems. I am not surprised that you decided to dig it up and plant something that takes less work and less water, but in summer! You have my admiration, I think you will be so satisfied with the result that it will be all worth it. Look forward to seeing what you plant.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  8. That is very clever to leave a natural silt barrier. At first glance I thought you were leaving the grass strip. I look forward to seeing what you plant.

  9. You have a strong back and a weak mind! LOL! Just kidding, but I do live in your area and know how stinking hot it is right now. My admiration for your work is very high. It is going to be beautiful when it is done, but please don't kill yourself!

  10. WOW!

    The garden looks spectacular and what a project for summer...can't wait for more updates on that :)

  11. Meems,
    Your garden is so beautiful I always have to stop and enlarge every single photos. I wish ours looked just like it! We just can't seem to pull it together.

  12. I think you are the bomb girl! To dig up all of this in the summer no less-send some of that strength and energy my way please! Smart move leaving that strip of grass next to the road. I can't wait to see it done and your garden is ever so awesome.

  13. Boy, you are one brave gardener to tackle such a big job in the July heat even with working in the morning and late afternoons. It is hard for me do to anything right now but the bare minimum of maintenance.

  14. You go, girl! I live in North Florida and I'm still working on projects too. So far I have ripped out two beds of azaleas to open up the view to the Japaneses Garden and planted smaller and shorter plants there. And I'm about to start another project where nothing has been growing but weeds and daylilies. Any time is a good time to garden:)

  15. Meems, Hello! I love the new curved bed in the front lawn...and your plans to add Florida natives is exciting. I am so glad I've been following so I won't be completely surprised when you plant them out! If I have any natives that will grow where you live, let me know, gail

  16. OMG Meems you have worked like a trojan. I can't believe that you have done that in the heat? Are you still clear in the head after that. I would be all laid up in bed after that exercise LOL. It looks really really good, especially the soft curves that will blend in the present landscape. I can't wait to see what you will paint your new canvas with.

    hugs and a cool cloth,

  17. meems,

    I love the curves you came the bed, very eye catching! Now you can get rid of that nasty gas lawn mower and get a battery operated one like I did a few months ago. I have nearly 4 acres yet less than a half acre to mow.

  18. Your curvy bed is pleasing to the eye. Grass is boring and labor intensive. Can't wait to see what you do with this bed, I'm sure it will be beautiful!

  19. Here in Florida during the summer I have had the tendency to stay indoors as much as possible. That new area is awesome and your not crazy for doing it lol. I may be startin a small new bed soon.


  20. I love that curve you's gonna look great when it's done.
    And when you're done with that project,you can help me with my side yard,when it's time. :-)

  21. I'm so impressed that you are putting in new beds now! I worked a couple of hours this morning and planned on working another 2 or 3 this evening. But when six came around, there was NO getting me back out there! It's just too hot - How do you do it? I'm just trying to maintain! :-)

  22. Thank you all for your wonderful and encouraging thoughts and comments. I feel you cheering me on. I've added an update to the bottom of the post. It includes a photo from today showing the progress so far. Between shifts of babysitting grandchildren and the rain --there hasn't been much time to concentrate on the project since Wednesday. But I'll get back to it the beginning of next week and maybe catch a few hours here and there over the weekend.

    Missy M,
    I'm so glad you stopped by. It is hot everywhere I suppose. I'm glad to know you are still working hard too.

    There are many reasons to eliminate turf... mowing less is a great one!

    Thank you. One of my neighbors took quite a bit of the good sod as I was digging it out. She was marching it right down to her empty spots as I was digging it out. The rest of it was dumped right into my compost piles. Nothing very scientific about my compost piles but the grass breaks down and goes right back into the garden.

    Thanks... come back for updates.

    I totally understand weenie in the heat. Somehow I'm just super motivated about this project. Once I get started the heat isn't so bad if I stick to early morning and late evening. I'm not sure yet which natives. Although I definitely know muhly grass and I think some Coontie... still deciding on the rest.

    Removing sod is NEVER fun. It is likely my most dreaded chore.

    and ... there's another whole side on the other side of the driveway... I'll get to that next year. Ha.

    My 'silt barrier' has come in handy this week with all the sudden downpours we've gotten. Down near the street is where I'm thinking about putting that Gold sedum.

    Island Rider,
    No actually both are weak... especially after this week. Ha.

    I'm glad you like it... thanks as always.

    You are being too hard on yourself. Your garden is beautiful!All those roses and daylilies...scrumptious! Gardens take time and patience... two things I'm short on most days. But I've been at this for a very long time now ... in the same place.

    Thanks for the cheerleading... I'll have to reserve every ounce of energy though. :-)

    At this point I'm not thinking "brave" is the correct description. LOL

    Florida certainly provides the opportunity to garden anytime the inspiration occurs. Good luck in your projects... sounds like you've got it going on.

    Natives and Florida Friendly plants just make more and more sense all the time. Now that you mention it... I have considered the possiblity of Rusty Black Haw... but I'm still not sure. For the most part trying to think of low growers since I don't want to block the view from the street.

    I'm surviving, believe it or not. It has been helpful to do the hard stuff (read:digging) in increments. As far as clear in the head?... well that was debateable BEFORE I got started. LOL thanks for the cool cloth... and hugs back to you.

    Not ready for battery power but the gas mower is running for less and less time as I am slowly losing the vast majority of lawn I started with.

    I have to say I like the look and feel of grass. It is calming and tidy. But I'm happy to decrease the amount I have for plants... like you say... less labor once established.

    Thank you. The jury may still be out on the crazy part. :-)

    Thanks. The project in your side yard is going to be exciting. Would love to put in my two cents.

    Mary Beth,
    don't feel badly... I've done the same thing. On the days I do manage to get back out though ... I'm always glad I did... it's kind of like exercising- once you get going it feels good. ;-)

  23. Wow! You work fast! I'm eagerly watching the transformation!--Randy

  24. Looking great! Well done!

  25. meems,
    no wonder you have had no time for commenting back...i think you must be crazy. but in a good way. a crazy gardening woman...obsessed with getting everything in your head done.
    i don't know how you are handling the heat but please don't overdo. the heat here is kicking my butt.
    i love the new bed, where it is, the curviness, and planting natives. i wish i could accomplish that look here. i just can't seem to get anybody to do it for
    well enjoy...we are in the process of building a fence for renny. it is so hot but onward...

  26. Well, if you're "crazy" you're in good company. I've always got some labor intensive idea simmering in my brain. Sod removal is one of the most difficult of garden tasks. (As a self-proclaimed total wuss I use Round-Up.)

    Even up here at 45 degrees latitude, the afternoon heat can be torturous. I, like you do the heavy stuff in mornings and evenings. I look forward to the "after" photos.

  27. I can't wait to see the finished garden, and I'm sure it will be fabulous.

  28. My goodness I have missed so much! Meems you are a dynamo. I love curved beds, and this is going to be beautiful. It's great that you are using native plants and I so love the Muhly grass. I popped out this morning to look at two pots. One had Miss Muffet Caladiums peeking through, and one had Rain Lily shoots jumping up all over. Don't you think I am one lucky and blessed gardener? I do.

  29. Ditto!! I know where you are coming from. Every year I tell myself to do the big projects during cooler weather months but I always find a way to end working on a project during the hottest months of the year, I guess is the gardening curse.

  30. That area looks great already and I love where you are headed with it. I also love Muhly Grass, the pink kind.


  31. Wow Meems - that's quite a project, especially in high summer. Your new bed looks great. I love the shape of it. With your gardening talent I'm confident it's going to be fantastic.

  32. Hi Meems....pat on the back from me...such a lot of hard work there. It will look wonderful when finished of that I am sure. I love the curves......such a soft statement....

    Your caladiums are amazing...indoor plants here.....I never realised how large the leaves are....

    Great project....I would much rather have beds than lawn....

  33. Meems -- I am so glad you are a crazy mad woman. It makes me feel better. We've had almost 30 days over 100, we hit 106 last week and have been stuck at 103 for 3 days. No relief in sight. But I've been out in it watering (pots and tender things) and working smallprojects. But EVEN I am not digging up sod! I am trying to wean myself from summer projects -- seems like you and I both need a big 'ol intervention!

  34. Randy,
    It doesn't feel very fast. I'm hitting it at 3 and 4 hour increments early and late. It is starting to look like a planting bed though. I'm nearing the end.

    Thank you for checking it out.

    Worse than the nasty, dripping sweat heat are the mosquitoes. Drenched in Cutters they are still trying to carry me away. I guess all the rain has encouraged their breeding. It is really awful. I'm making good progress on the bed. Isn't it going to be so different! Once it fills in I think I'm going to like it.

    Sod removal is my all-time least favorite gardening chore. Any other chore is easier and more enjoyable... even all the mulch I'm shoveling and hauling is hard but not as awful as digging sod.
    If only we cooled down at night our mornings and evenings would be better. The only advantage is that the sun is not shining directly on me at those times.

    Thank you. It will be a while before fabulous describes this bed. I'll be anxiously waiting for the plants to grow and fill in.

    So happy to hear your caladiums and rain lilies are cooperating. That's the great thing about our summer... things grow like crazy.

    We have to do what we have to do and sometimes that means ... in July. It's not so bad once we get going and the rewards are worth it.

    I really hope the Muhly grass works here. It will be a nice showing in the fall if it does.

    Compost in my shoes,
    ...and good riddance, too.

    You're sweet to say that... it has been fun coming up with what to plant. We shall see if it all goes together and works well.

    Thanks for the pats... I feel them urging me onward. Sizes of Caladium leaves vary with each type. Some are much larger than other ones. I adore their variety and have saved some to plant in the new front project. But then that's no surprise.

    We crazy, mad women must stick together. It makes us both feel better to know there are those fellow gardeners out there that don't let the heat and the elements deter. On the other hand intervention might be the answer...LOL

  35. Meems, you are an inspiration! I don't think I would have had the ambition to start a project like this in mid-July. But I'm sure it's going to look great when you finish. I'm eager to see what sun-loving plants you decide to put in here.

    I always enjoy seeing all your caladium; you're responsible for me adding more to my shade garden this summer, though my few can hardly compare with all of yours:)

  36. when i see more garden, i think more space to have to weed!! that is like more rooms in the house to have to dust - just more work!! but then, to your own admission, you are a woman possessed with gardening mania - so maybe we should look for a GAA - that would be Gardening Addicts Anonymous ;-)

    the heat and i cannot tolerate each other. yesterday, i tried to trim out my geranium bed (under the front crape myrtle) and was nose-dripping wet within 30 min. you are definitely a driven gardener to take on such a huge project in the July heat. the rains have helped cool it a little, but it just steams up the periods of dry hours like a sauna. anyway, i am following along with your other readers to admire the finished project, which i am certain will be awesome!!

  37. Rose,
    It was either dig out the sod and put more down (because of the damage from chinch bugs) or dig out the sod and replace with plants. Believe me, I didn't want to get started on this project. But once I made up my mind there was no turning back. LOL

    I am so pleased you have planted some caladiums in your shade garden. I hope they are doing well for you.

    SG aka Mom,
    Weeding shouldn't be a problem with the proper amount of mulch. For some reason taking care of plants is so much easier than grass~~ to me anyway. Grass is so finicky. It HAS been nose-dripping (with sweat that is) wicked hot. No question this is the most insane project I've tried to accomplish in the summer. Believe me, I wouldn't have done it except for that lawn damage. It was just so bad and it was right in the front lawn. You've seen the start of the planting... you must come by again... don't wait to see it on the blog!

  38. I really did get behind in my blog reading. Wow, look at all that area to plant! What fun, even if it is hot.

    I thought I'd be finished planting by now, too, but I keep finding more holes, or creating them with trimming/deadheading.


Have a blessed day,

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