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Benefits of Going Grassless…

The benefits of going grassless or reducing your turf lawn is something most people don’t know about.  So I wrote this article.  

Grassless Yard Design

I have been talking to many of my clients for years, on the subject of reducing turf areas, or removing the entire portion of grass left in their yard, and doing something different. My background experience and knowledge database comes from a maintenance company I had owned for many years prior, and many others I had worked for prior to that.

I developed a style of landscape design that didn’t require the need for grass, irrigation, fertilizers, or constant maintenance. I thought this might be an attractive idea for most people, as nobody seems to have the time to care for a nice lawn, and spending more money to maintain such a cheap element in the landscape didn’t make sense either.

Environmental and Ethical Costs

Growing a nice lawn requires a vital element that is the essence of all life… water. Unfortunately, this is not an unlimited resource. With a population of over seven billion (and growing daily), the world isn’t producing fresh water at that rate. Here in Florida, we are starting to see the aftermath from decades of irresponsible use of this very precious resource. Sinkholes are opening up all along Florida’s west coast and throughout the rest of the state. This is the result of over-pumping ground water. A sinkhole can reach a size to swallow an entire home over night (and has)!

Still, some tell me “I don’t worry about my water bill, I’m on a well.” Okay.. you are free from a meter, but your water comes from the same source… the ground. It is this mentality that has led to such bitter ends. I’m sure that the people who live next to a victim of a sinkhole understand the seriousness of this issue and value a green lawn a little less. For those who just don’t care or think it won’t happen to them… you are challenging nature. She ALWAYS wins.

A Low Maintenance Option

Going without grass isn’t as bad as it may sound. If you have kids or a dog, you may want to keep some, but reducing areas that serve no other purpose than mowing every week is a good start. Grassless yards are very low maintenance and can look great all year long without too much water or chemicals. Most can thrive on rain water alone. If designed well, these unique landscapes disperse the rain water to just the right areas and reduce runoff and provide great drainage!

Going Green Without the Heartache

Many people that have chosen this route to appease their homeowners association have found the benefits of going grassless far outweigh another replaced lawn. With strict watering restrictions, chemical and fertilizer bans, and the overall damage already done to our precious planet… our world needs heros. Those who have children and want the very best for them can appreciate a world with enough fresh water to drink. Sacrificing a lawn could be the best investment you will ever make. Those who have see the benefits almost instantly!


Drainage Solutions in Your Garden

Drainage Solutions to Avoid Runoff

Runoff sends yard chemicals and other toxins into storm drains and should be avoided if you want a Florida friendly landscape in your yard.  Drainage solutions can be as simple as installing a drain system, but the water must be sent into a safe direction.  Sometimes rock will do the trick.  Rock can send water down faster than grass and the trapped water that pools on top is sent up into vapor.

Here is a home in St. Petersburg with a wash out problem in the front yard and a drainage issue in the back. The client had a swimming pool put in, and the drains that were installed seem to wash out more of her backyard every time it rained. When I first looked at the front yard during my initial visit, I noticed the area by the curb had washed out. She informed me that it does flood some when it rains. I felt that a rock bed of some kind would be a solution to a flooding issue.  The problems in the front yard were much worse than she had described to me… when it rains, a river forms and flows through most of her front yard washing away everything in its path.

drainage solutions


As we began to install the front yard, we had a chance to see just what was going on ..and just how bad it could get. Three days in a row it rained on my crew as we frantically tried to keep the “river” from washing out the base materials. On the second rain day we watched in horror as the river kept raising higher and higher into the front yard.


drainage solutions


After that moment, we knew that there needed to be a plan modification to keep her investment from flowing down the street. The sheer velocity of the moving water was almost enough to take my feet out from under me as I tried to enter my truck.  We decided to upgrade the size of the rock to 2 – 4 inch river stones. River stones that size won’t move in the flow of the water, also the under layer was going to be crushed shell (which also doesn’t wash out).

In the back we inspected the flow patterns of the water and decided that a drain system was going to be needed to redirect the rain water to the large plants already existing in her back yard. This is what a Florida friendly landscape design is all about.

drainage solutions

Drainage Solutions for a Sloped Yard

Having a sloped yard can make the water move easier as in this case.  The water moves away from the house, but the drain pipe was cut short.  All we did here was to continue to move the water through pipe to the fence line, and let it empty where it would naturally.  We found a plant that would gladly take as much water as the rain could give at the end of the line.  Drainage solutions can be this easy, but not always!

installing a drain system

finished drain

Florida Friendly Landscape Design in St. Petersburg

Florida friendly landscaping is becoming more popular in neighborhoods all over St. Petersburg. Many elements of your existing yard could already be categorized as Florida friendly, and sometimes as in the drainage issue going on in this back yard, simply redirecting the water to large plants in the yard does the job of watering efficiently.

For more on the nine guidelines of Florida friendly landscape design, visit your local county extension office.

Go Grassless Florida!

grass-less front yard

Tired of mowing the lawn? Is the grass a foot tall again? How many times have you wished you didn’t have to pull out that lawn mower? If you answered “Yes” to these questions, then you are one of the lucky ones. Wait… did I say lucky? Yes… Lucky. The fact that you have a lawn to mow makes you the lucky one. Most people have a hard time keeping a healthy lawn. With all of the restrictions on water, fertilizers and other chemicals, Florida lawns are becoming more challenging to keep up with. Even if you have hired a service professional to manage your lawn, they too have an uphill battle with the basic factors that play a huge role in the overall health of your lawn.

Grassless yards are becoming popular as homeowners are having to replace their lawn more often than ever. Look for one in your neighborhood or start the trend!  Go grassless Florida!