Living in Harmony




Turf Alternatives








A variety of ground covers and plants can be used to replace turf areas.  Ground covers are low-growing plants used within a landscape.  Selecting which types of plants are appropriate for you depends on a variety of factors (e.g., location within your yard, soil conditions, etc.).  For more information about ground covers and landscaped plants that could be used to replace turfgrass areas, please refer to the links under Additional Resources and Fact Sheets.

Unzip the Strip in Harmony

A lawn of thick grass can be a wonderful thing and an object of pride for you and the neighborhood. But healthy turf is probably the most management dependent part of the home landscape, as well as the thirstiest, i.e. costliest. And when it goes bad, it’s just no fun to bring back. But there are options to turf that will give your home a great appearance, are actually good for the environment and neighborhood habitat and can save you time and money in the feeding and care of the front yard beast.

Often a problem spot is the narrow strip of turf between the sidewalk and landscape bed. At a foot or so wide, too narrow to mow easily and either doesn’t get enough irrigation water or excess water ends up on the sidewalk or on shrubs which don’t need it.

While grass makes an attractive border, there are options that look good, are easier and less wasteful to care for and are consistent with Harmony appearance standards.

Simply bringing the landscape bed out to the sidewalk is one. A few bags of mulch are an easy replacement. Natural color pine bark or shredded hardwood mixes work well and, as by-products of timbering activities, are a good use of waste products. Avoid cypress mulch, which is not derived from waste material, but usually comes from whole trees being shredded. Though chipped rubber seems like a good recycling effort, it adds no nutrients to the soil and is often aesthetically distasteful.

Adding some plants is another great option. Coontie (Zamia pumila) is a bushy, deep green, palm-like choice and as a Florida native will fill the space handsomely and with little maintenance. Porter weed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) will also fill spaces quickly and provides spikes of blue flowers for several months each year. As another native plant, its flowers will bring butterflies to your front door. The Lantana sold at garden centers can make for a low growing, colorful ground cover that requires no irrigation once established. Be sure to use the yellow-flower Lantana that does not produce berries.  The Lantana shrubs that produce berries and have red and orange flowers are Lantana camara and should NOT be used as this species is an invasive exotic.

If you live on one of the side streets in Harmony, the turf between sidewalk and street curb is also fair game for a makeover if you wish. (These areas along Harmony’s main streets are managed by the CDD so homeowners you don’t have to worry about them.) Asiatic Jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) often is a good option in these spots as its drought tolerant, fills in thickly and is pest free. It will require edging to contain runners which results in a very formal look which many like. This is not a native plant so it won’t do anything for birds and butterflies but is an almost bulletproof option if you want green and no worries.

Florida-Friendly groundcover options include Perennial Peanut (Arachis glabrata), which features small yellow flowers, and the native Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa) with pink powder-puff type blooms. You may have to visit a specialty nursery like Maple Street Natives in West Melbourne, but you’ll have a distinctive landscape as a result.

The appearance of the home is an important feature for you and the community. Harmony residential covenants require that individual landscapes be maintained to be compatible with the rest of the neighborhood, with an eye toward using Xeriscape, or efficient watering practices, in the landscape. Turf alternatives can achieve that and relieve you a lot of the stress of seeking the perfect lawn. Contact the Residential Owners Association’s Architectural Review Committee with any questions and get ready to “unzip the strip” of sod.

(Unzip the Strip was excerpted from Harmony Notes newsletter, Oct. 2009)

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