Resource Central’s Turf Replacement program was born in 2016 when the City of Lafayette wanted to help residents decrease their outdoor water use. More recently, the program has grown into new communities like Thornton and Boulder. After one year and over 40 successful turf transformations in the Thornton Water district, Heather, a water resource analyst with the utility, decided to try out the program for herself. Learn how she created a beautiful, low-water garden that is enjoyed by neighbors, family and pollinators!
Q: What was your motivation for transforming your landscape?
A: “I love gardening, and water conservation is important to me. My kids are growing up and don’t play on the lawn as much, so it was time to replace some grass with beautiful water-wise plants. The city of Thornton offered the H2Overhaul program for free plants if you take out 200 sq. ft. of turf and I decided to go for it.”
Q: What was the most challenging part of the project?
A: “There were a lot of challenges. The biggest challenge was removal and disposal of the turf. We ended up piling most of the old sod in a pile upside down in a different part of our yard for now. Next time I do this, I will try covering the area with cardboard and plastic, months prior so that the grass is dead and I can just till it all in when I amend the soil.
Another challenge was preventing weeds and grass in the garden area. I layered 3-4 sheets of newspaper under the mulch, and it is really working well.
Edging was a surprise challenge. We wanted something attractive but not too expensive. We ended up using large cobble rock from a local landscape supplier and I love how it defines the area. We added some garden art, solar lights, funky orange chairs and flagstone to finish off the garden.”
Q: What was your favorite part of the project?
A: “My favorite part was planting the plants. The plants were really high quality and did really well after planting in the amended soil and covering the area with mulch.”
Q: Do you have any words of advice for future turf removal participants?
A: “Ask for help! We asked neighbors to help with the initial design of the area. Using an extension cord we laid out the curvy design. We spoke with a landscape design intern too about irrigation and plant placement. Getting help along the way, gave us more confidence in moving through the different steps of the project.
The first time you do this, it is kind of scary, but you can do it! All the work was so worth it. My family and I sit out on the patio and look at the garden daily. It has brought birds, bugs and even neighbors into our yard to enjoy. I am already planning another area of the yard to convert next spring.”