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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.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Turf Grass Isn't Evil

Mr. Meems and I moved our chairs early-morning to this vantage point for better shade. We were talking about how nice it is to change-up the seating arrangement and see the garden differently.

Every angle offers an alternate view. We were remarking how drastically the garden has evolved in recent years. This view (as well as all others in this post) was previously a solid palette of lush green grass.  The turf grass has been replaced with Florida-Friendly and native groundcovers/shrubs/trees/ornamentals.

This is the "Circle Garden" in my back yard. There are several meandering pathways trailing off from here in different directions leading to other parts of the garden. (It sounds bigger than it is, but you get the idea.) Jasmine minima or asiatic jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum), is the low-lying groundcover that I've shaped into a "circular carpet". It is dense, sturdy, and easy to take care of.

There's a whole lot of buzz going around the gardening world about reducing the lawn in residential yards. I've been gradually taking mine out for the past 12 years. This patch of lawn in the back garden is all that remains. I don't think turf grass is evil, but I do adhere to a naturalistic, organic approach to gardening. Reducing the lawn has made my garden infinitely more sustainable.

Florida lawns require an endless cycle of fertilizer and water, pesticides for the bugs in spring, fungicides for fungus in summer and on it goes. I got tired of replacing grass after the sod webworms chewed it to bits and weakened it for the chinch bugs to move in to finish it off.

The grass that remains is barely enough for the grandkiddos to play. You may have small children or pets that require some turf grass. Our gardens should suit our personal needs.

I have Planted. Every. Single. Plant. Bush. Flower. Bulb. Cutting.Transplant in my garden over the last 12 years. (The trees 20 years ago). I don't say that in a boastful spirit. It's just a point of reference for you. It's to let you know how possible it is to create the garden of your dreams. Every space in my garden has been accomplished in increments and phases.
I’ve grown personally with each creative endeavor~~ each new planting bed~~each sweaty, stinky project~~each success and failure. Working with the diversity of plants is pure joy. The wildlife/critters this type of garden attracts causes me to breathe a little deeper…to pause a little longer. The peace, the sanctuary of a garden compared to a water-guzzling lawn is soul-inspiring.

Have you been remvoing the turf grass in your garden? What are your favorite alternatives to replace it? Happy gardening, Meems

We had this discussion on my Hoe and Shovel Facebook page this past week. Remember to click the LIKE button to join in the conversation on Facebook.


  1. Your blog was the inspiration to replace my St. Augustine grass (which always needed some kind of chemical assistance) in the backyard with a more friendly - to both our pets and the environment, alternative. We now have just one sitting area of grass and the change has been great. Not as beautiful as yours, but a work in progress none-the-less. Once we're done in the back, we'll work on the front and large side area. This post has provided even more inspiration . :-)

  2. I have always admired your garden. I love that circle of jasmine. I wish I could grow it here.

  3. Don't I wish I could replace all of our turf. We live in an HOA and they require St. Augustine. We have stopped using weed-n-feed in favor of a more natural lawn-care product and our lawn in doing better because of it.
    Our next home will be a better choice, for us and the environment.

  4. Oh Meems your garden looks so peaceful and inviting. Say hello to Mr Meems for me. Hugs my friend.

  5. Absolutely gorgeous! We garden so differently in Texas but I believe we have common ground.

  6. I also made the choice to replace what pitiful grass was left in our yard with landscape beds and pathways. It was the right decision for us because we have no children or doggies that need a place to play, and a very small lot. I think you have described this choice perfectly in calling it "sustainable."

  7. Your lawn and flower beds are so beautiful. I adore that round or circle bed. How lovely.

  8. I have finally gotten rid of most of the grass in the back yard.I wish I could do that in the front,but I have left grass growing over the septic drain field.I just have visions of having to tear it all up....

  9. I too have much less lawn than when I moved in. Our HOA allows Florida friendly lawns since it is now a Pinellas County rule.
    I still have problems with the people who remove the grass but just allow weeds to takeover the area. They think by removing sod they no longer have to care for the yard. Mulch and plants are on the sidewalk and in the street and weeds grow 2 foot high. They do not plan the correct plants to keep the area neat and tidy. So I hope when people see your beautiful yard they realize the hard work and devotion it takes to maintain here in the sub tropics.

  10. Oh, your garden is so beautiful. I'm so glad I found your blog. I think it's great that you're reducing your lawn. I'm trying to do the same!

  11. I like what you're doing in your garden space. I don't like turf grass at all. Instead I make a rock mulch area around clusters of plants and I think it looks much better than the uniform boring grass. Not all of it is bad and like you say, a garden should reflect the gardener and their wishes....but minimizing grass is a much better option.

  12. I guess it is an unpopular viewpoint these days but I do like a nice lawn. It is very relaxing and pretty to see and great for the kids to play games on. I love some of the pictures of your yard in years past. It is very pretty now as well but I do prefer some lawn.

  13. Hello Meems, Love your blog and even more that you are a FL garden blogger just like me! I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blog Award. Check out my post at

  14. I've never had ground to cover with grass. I have some ornamental potted grass but that is it. Due to water shortage (we had to buy water and have it delivered) the former owner of our property had it cemented all the way around except for plant boxes and a portion under the water tank. I can't wait to see what my garden will look like 20 years from now. I can only hope that it evolves to look as good as yours. We've reclaimed a little bit of the land by taking out some of the cement. Next step is fixing the side for entertaining but we're still saving up for that project.

  15. Impressive transformation! I especially like the "gradual" part. It's not as overwhelming. And I'm very visual...have to see what I have to work with and then add on...this approach would work well for me. I'm following in your footsteps and can only hope my garden is as lovely as yours one day!

  16. Impressive transformation! I like your "gradual" approach - less overwhelming. It also works for me since I am very visual and need to see what I have to work with before I add on. I am following in your footsteps and can only hope my garden is as beautiful as yours one day!

  17. When I bought my house it had been empty during a drought summer. I took the opportunity to reduce the grass by 3/4. There is a tiny bit in front and more in the back by the patio. I still think it is too much, but with a kid now it makes sense for her to have a place to play. 95% of the rest of the backyard are drought resistant plants, mulch and fruit trees. We use the grass clipping for mulch in the veggie garden.
    Seattle artificial turf


Have a blessed day,

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