Our home is in Zone 10, southern coastal Florida. We had a traditional yard complete with lots and lots of St. Augustine sod and spent about 15-20 hours per week caring for the grass; mowing, edging, weed eating, fertilizing, watering and treating for chinch bugs. Our water bill ran $90-$96 per month. And I might add that our yard was very small. The property is only 50' x 125'.
In 2007 we began to transform the entire yard into an extreme xeriscape yard. We didn't want one blade of sod grass to remain. We wanted to be kind to the earth as well as ourselves. For the previous 2 years we had been letting the grass die. We refused to water, fertilize or treat for chinch bugs. Believe me, without continual care, under tough drought conditions and abnormal summer temperatures, the high maintenance grass didn't stand a snowball's chance in Hades. With the grass dead, we began by edging both sides of the driveway with decorative pavers and wall blocks; from there we continued on to lay all the stepping stone walkways and to create the raised planter beds with the decorative blocks, one each in the front and rear yards.
Having grown up and living all but a few years of my life in that portion of Florida; I had a good deal of knowledge of the plants which will grow there. I chose the plants with great care. Well aware that the global climate change was going to make winters colder and summers hotter, I had to narrow the field of plants to choose from. I did not want things I had to baby through the winter. Every single plant was carefully scrutinized. If they were going to be in my yard they had to be tough as nails! They had to be capable of taking everything the weather dished out without much help from me. I would give everything 1 year after planting to become established and after that time they would have to survive and look good with little supplemental water other than what mother nature provided. There would be no poisons used against pests or diseases. It wasn't easy to strike old favorites from the list. The tropicals I had grown up with were so much a part of me and I love them dearly. But I was being ruthless -- I had to be.
Before the plants could go in, there had to be mulch and lots of it. Mulch is absolutely essential to conserve water, regulate the soil temperature and keep those pesky weeds from popping up. Since there was to be no grass, mulch would comprise the pathways where there were no stepping stones. We spread a 3-4" thick layer of Eucalyptus chips over the entire yard. It smelled heavenly. The Eucalyptus chips were chosen for a number of reasons. They repel insects, won't float or blow away and because of their large size, they break down more slowly than many mulches.
We finally began to plant. Everything was small and there were lots of bare places waiting for the correct plants to become available or to be located. But gardening teaches patience. The small plants would grow and fill in and I would eventually find the plants I was looking for. I told myself that over and over again.
Since xeriscaping our yard our water bill has never been over $35. Imagine the thousands of gallons of water that have been saved. No longer having any need for the mower, edger or weed eater, we got rid of them. No more air or noise pollution from such. We kept the leaf blower as one can always find a handy use for it. We used to blow dry our Australian Shepherd with it after her baths. That was a sight indeed!
WELCOME TO OUR GARDEN!
These photos are early on in the planting process. Small plants still have to mature and more plants are to be added.
|Front yard||Back yard|
For those who think not having grass will be uncomfortable for their dog:
I promised her we would play when I finished gardening.
Strip between the driveway & the privacy wall:
Things are growing & more plants have been added:
Dietes bicolor --- the only plant in my yard with a permanent copper marker "Muy Linda" in memory of my dear friend Linda Gendron
Zephyranthes "Libra" close up and en masse
Spathoglottis plicata -- various colors
Leptospermum scoparium "ballerina" (tea tree)
Neomarica longifolia (yellow walking iris)
|Thryallis||Odontonema strictum (Firespike)|
|Senna polyphylla (cassia)||Hummingbird on cassia|
Male Painted Bunting on feeder hanging from standard Ligustrum
BUT WE WILL BE SELLING THIS HOUSE
We have moved to the northern portion of our state to zone 8 and bought 5 acres which we will build a house on. The gardens will occupy the immediate area of the house. Again, I will concentrate on drought tolerant plants. I will be looking toward plants which provide food for birds, bees, and humming birds with a strong emphasis on plants native to the local area. As to the meadows, I'm seeing wildflower meadows where all that pasture grass now grows. Here are a few photos. We have our work cut out for us! A new adventure begins . . .
Painted bunting "greenie" (immature male or a mature female) in Plumeria with background of Podocarpus gracilior standard
Oh my, Ann! How very beautiful. What an amazing tour. And I'm so excited you're starting a second chapter soon. It's going to be beautiful as well.
Thank you so much for sharing your gardens with us. You are leaving them behind for someone else to enjoy, and it's going to be exciting to see what you do with your new home, your new land.
We wish you luck and happiness as you begin a new adventure.
Thanks for joining us, come back again next week as we tour the gardens of another of our members.
Garden Tours is a joint effort by Trish and Sharon.