While turfgrasses blanket many of Florida’s properties, they require resources, money, and time to maintain. However, turfgrass alternatives such as mulch, groundcover, and hardscapes exist. Reduce your yard size and substitute it for options that not only conserve resources but diversify and beautify your landscaping.
While turfgrasses such as St. Augustine cultivars blanket many of Florida’s residential and commercial properties, alternatives to turfgrass exist. Let us remind you of a few.
Why a Turfgrass Alternative?
While healthy turfgrass is lush and beautiful, it requires mowing, water, and fertilizer to keep it that way. Struggling turfgrass can be a hassle to maintain, whether it continuously develops patchy areas or is overcome with weeds.
Many homeowners find that replacing some of their turf with alternative landscaping materials and generally decreasing their yard size reduces the headaches associated with damage control.
It is also more environmentally friendly and saves them money on lawn care.
Mulch is a practical substitute for turfgrass that contrasts nicely with the green hues of grass.
In spaces where turf wears thin due to foot traffic or lack of sun, mulch will fill out the area and will not suffer as grass does.
Installing mulch in areas of your yard that are difficult to mow–like slopes, fenced corners, or around trees–will save you time and headaches. Pine straw and pine bark are decorative mulches that quickly create attractive landscaping and are easy to refresh.
Groundcovers–sprawling, low-growing plants–are excellent alternatives to turfgrass.
Not only do these plants fill in spaces and prevent weeds from growing, but they also diversify and beautify your landscaping.
Groundcovers are also extremely energy efficient. They provide substantial energy savings for a good portion of the year and reduce the temperature of the surrounding area due to evaporative cooling.
Here are a few low-maintenance, Florida-friendly groundcover options:
Creeping fig is a quick spreader that will grow in either sun or shade. It is a vining plant, so you may need to clip it if it grows close to a wall or fence.
Creeping fig grows in an interesting pattern that does well in South Florida.
Perennial peanut can be grown across the state, but it thrives in the hot temperatures and sandy soils of South and Central Florida. In full sun, this groundcover blooms bright, yellow flowers throughout the summer months.
Perennial peanut is versatile: it can be grown
• on its own in a contained bed,
• used as an alternative to an entire lawn, and even
• inter-planted within a lawn.
This plant’s rhizomes form a mat that helps to prevent erosion.
For those with shaded yards, consider Algerian ivy. This fast-growing plant boasts bold, leathery leaves that grow six to eight inches across.
Depending on the variety, Algerian Ivy leaves may be rich, dark green or have speckled or cream-colored margins. Algerian Ivy has medium drought- and salt-tolerance.
A hardscape like a deck or patio doubles as a turfgrass substitute and an extension of your living area. When deciding on the materials to use, choose something porous to reduce runoff.