People are reworking their yards getting ready for summer. Given the recent drought conditions and forecast for more of the same, neighbors are pulling up the St Augustine and replacing it with a more drought-toleratant variety, or with something other than grass. For some the transformation has been a gradual process that started a few years ago. For others like myself (see photo at left), they just have a yard with large sections of dead grass needing attention. What follows are some examples of what Allandale residents have done.
Kata Carbone and David Orshalick’s yard on W 49 ½
We got rid of the grass about nearly 4 years ago. We built raised beds and made permeable walkways with crushed granite, pebbles, and stepping stones. Plantings have been somewhat experimental with emphasis on drought- and shade-tolerant evergreen plants.
Some of those first plants were unsuitable: they died/froze or were removed, e.g. vitex was going to get too large so we moved it to my daughter’s back yard. Designing the garden and doing all the labor ourselves was, of course, very economical. Thinning and transplanting of existing plants (iris, lily, purple heart, lambs ear, Mexican petunia etc.) have kept costs way down. – Kata
Kerry Drake and Mike Wiest’s yard on Shoal Creek and White Rock
We have tilled the dead spots of our front yard (while leaving the living St. Augustine) and planted a new, supposedly drought tolerant, combo seed purchased at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center called ‘Habiturf’. -Kerry
Photo to the left is Kerry and her daughter Piper Wiest standing on the remaining St. Augustine grass holding the empty bag of Habiturf seed they planted in the large section of the yard in front of them.
Olga Wise on Strass Drive
My husband and I replaced (or rather had a landscaper) our front yard with crushed gravel and plants that mostly require no water. It is photogenic.
Carri Crowe on Greenlawn Pkwy
I’m not sure how happy I’ll be with it in the long run, but here’s what I did when my lawn was at the worst last fall:
- De-thatched the big dead spots of St Augustine & Bermuda grass by hand with a rake
- Had a service come aerate the lawn (I wish I’d gotten “core aeration” but this seems to have helped loosen up the badly compacted soil) and I did some aeration by hand with a pitchfork as well
- Had a service put down a 50/50 mix of topsoil and compost
- Installed a sprinkler system
- Spread a bunch of red clover seed on the whole lawn in the hope that it would fill in the many empty dirt patches during fall & winter (very inexpensive red clover seed is available in bulk at the Great Outdoors
Now, after the sprinkler’s been doing its thing and with the damp spring, my lawn is really greening up. The clover mows very nicely, is easy underfoot, and it looks nice (at least in the back – the front is still pretty sparse & has a lot of areas that have yet to fill in). Not sure how clover fares long term, but I read enough to think it might be a nice alternative to grass. – Carri
Kim Meyer on W. 48th
I am letting the St. Augustine die & will replace with buffalo grass. Then I added crushed granite covering 2/3 of the back yard. It covers 1/4 of the front yard. Still need to add some native plants.
Chuck and Sarah St Laurent, 3000 White Rock
We just removed 1200 sq ft of grass in our lawn. We replaced some of it with a mulch path and some with a decomposed granite succulent garden. -Sarah
Photo on far left is Chuck and Sarah in front of their beautifully landscaped yard. It was a multi-year effort.