In 2010 the Town of Sewall’s Point passed a strong fertilizer ordinance, the first on Florida’s east coast. It was during this time, that I became “anti-turf grass.” Today when I look at a “beautiful” sprawling yard of green grass, all I see is fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide, and heavy water needs that are contrary to a healthy St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and a successful Florida future.
In order to put my “money where my mouth is,” in 2010, I informed my husband that I was going to start removing the grass from our yard and mulching with leaves from our oaks, strangler figs, and other trees. As usual, he looked at me like I was slightly crazy, but as usual, he agreed.
This decision was made easier in that around this same time our well was starting to go dry and I had gotten estimates in from $5000 to $8000 to replace it. Not to mention the well guys said if they did drill, as it is well-known wells are going dry in this high hammock area of Sewall’s Point, and they were unsuccessful, Ed and I would still have to pay half.
“Not my kind of odds.” I thought, especially knowing water issues regarding wells, and salt water intrusion are only going to increase. Last week, in 2014, I changed the house over to “city water” as our well has finally died. I am very glad that over the past few years I have de-grassed the yard for the most part, a heavy water user, and filled it with Florida Friendly (http://www.floridayards.org) plants that do not require much watering. I am hoping to irrigate only once a week, or never, and just water by hand.
City water is expensive! The South Florida Water Management District states that “up to 60% of a south Florida homes’ water use can go to irrigation. That’s insane and a huge waste of water and money.
I have read that Florida produces 25% of the WORLD’S turf grass.(http://floridaturf.com/about/) Considering that, I’d say the state has an interest in keeping us “in grass.” This is a problem…a conflict of interest. I wish they were investing in inventing an attractive low-water/low-or no fertilizer, ground cover other than floratam type grasses; they would make billions, and help save the state’s precious spring, lake, and estuary waters rather than encouraging us to destroy them. The sod and fertilizer industries are multi-billion dollar industries that want to keep us “addicted.”
Well, I have broken free. 🙂
Back to my family, I have to say, also, that my brother-in-law, landscape architect Mike Flaugh (http://mikeflaughla.com) and my mother, always ahead of her time, also inspired me on this issues. As they too have de-grassed their yards years ago and their yards still look beautiful. Mike has “natively” and “Florida Friendly” landscaped some of the newest and finest homes in the area with no or little grass and these homes are examples of the “new yard,” “the conscious yard,” “the yard of the future.”
Today, I’d like to share some photos of my de-grassed yard in hopes of inspiring you, should you wish to be inspired, and hopefully are already! 🙂