Bye, Bye Turf!

It’s time to highlight another turf removal project we’ve just completed. This one is primarily non-edible, but we were excited to transform another front lawn into a water catchment basin, and make it a home for native and drought-tolerant plants.

The family wanted colorful plants that gave them a little privacy while taking advantage of the city’s rebate program, which covered the cost of plants and hardscape materials. Let’s take a look:

Before

Flat lawn ready for renovation.

Flat lawn ready for renovation.

The homeowner wanted a path next to the driveway to make it easier to load music equipment in and out of cars. They also wanted to create easier access to the house.

Plants blocked the porch, making it harder to get in an out.

Plants blocked the porch, making it harder to get in an out.

We decided to preserve a few existing plants to anchor the project, but replace most of the landscape with more naturally shaped hedges and plants. The yard gets a fair amount of shade, so we chose suitable plants for the task. We decided to install a bioswale to take advantage of a prominent downspout near the front door.

A bioswale will collect rain water from a downspout and slow it, spread it, and sink it.

A bioswale will collect rain water from a downspout and slow it, spread it, and sink it.

The bioswale is graded to be deeper as water flows away from the house. It will capture rainfall and feed the plants growing along the edges.

The final product is a curvaceous permeable landscape that educate the neighborhood about water catchment.

The final product is a curvaceous permeable landscape that inspires the neighborhood toward water catchment solutions.

The homeowner requested a water feature as a focal point. A new Meyer lemon tree also offers visual interest. We brought in a couple of boulders and contoured several mounds to keep water on site.

California native plants like Cleveland Sage, Yarrow and Hummingbird Sage will fill in over time, offering lush foliage and color.

California native plants like Cleveland Sage, Yarrow and Hummingbird Sage will fill in over time, offering lush foliage and color.

We repurposed the homeowners’ flax and agapanthus plants, and added Little Ollie dwarf olive trees and variegated Japanese Mock Orange (pittosporum tobira) for wispy natural-shaped hedges. Shady spots are home to more shade-tolerant CA natives like Pitcher Sage and California Bush Anemone. The homeowner’s camellias and trumpet vine were kept as well. Pittosporum ‘silver sheen’ will offer some privacy in front of the bedroom windows, while native heuchera fills the window boxes.

Always room for the homeowners' cute pelican watering can.

Always room for the homeowners’ cute pelican watering can.

Mulch and drip irrigation will keep water on site instead of running down the street to the ocean. As plants grown in they will spill over borders to create a lush landscape filled with colorful flowers and foliage.

Did you know that 50% of home water usage goes to landscaping? Now that Californians have been asked to reduce water usage by 25%, this is the perfect time to replace lawns with native and low-water landscaping. It adds up!

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6 Responses to Bye, Bye Turf!

  1. Terrie Lavery says:

    Not sure if you know about Turf Terminators, but if you do I was wondering what you think? I was told they pull up your grass and put in drought tolerant plants, mulch or rocks for free. They take the DWP rebate as payment. My concern is not using a plastic barrier for weed control and not digging down deep enough to have the mulch and rocks level with driveway.

    • Christy says:

      Hi Terrie,

      There are some good things about the Turf Terminators program, but I don’t think it’s the best way to go if you can afford to spend some money on your landscaping. Aside for leaving front yards looking like the surface of the moon (gravel and a few sparsely placed plants), their method doesn’t grade your landscape to capture water on site, and they don’t use plant material that benefits our pollinator population. I’ve heard that my friends at G3 are chatting with them about how they can make changes, but honestly they have a cap as to what they can do for your rebate dollars. Ideally you want to create places to capture water on site, use native plants and use permeable materials. Those are my thoughts. I hope that soon my comments are outdated, and they will have figured out how to create landscapes that benefit our soils and pollinators as well as our wallets.

  2. Rochelle Renaud says:

    Hi Christy,

    Brentwood Glen’s garden club meets ever couple of months. There’s always a speaker. Would you be interested? Usually they bring free seeds, one brought plants and rocks for mini terrariums, once I took home 1-2-3 herbs. All come with lessons, advice, etc. There’s up to 12 women, I believe.

    By the way, not only did my winter vegies not die with the move to the other side of the yard, but they are thriving! I did buy a couple of sage plants and coral trees and California poppies for the area that was the vegie garden. Time will tell. Thanks for your help. Rochelle

  3. linda says:

    I am applying for the turf removal rebate program in S. Pasadena and I am looking for someone to help me design the front and back yard. I’d like to know who did the yard that you featured here, and also if you have any other referrals, I’d greatly appreciate it if you would let me know.

    Thank you,
    Linda

    • Christy says:

      HI Linda,

      I (Christy) did the design in this blog post. You can give me a call, or you might try contacting Lillian Montalvo in Pasadena. She does great designs with native plants and CA friendly plants as well.

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