Saturday, May 5, 2012

Update on My Native Florida Lawn

Sometime back I posted on my experience with starting a Florida native lawn. I think native lawns are a great idea, and I'm happy with the results. Since I have received a fair amount of email about that post, I thought I would add an update.

To recap, the idea behind a Florida native lawn is to use a native ground cover rather than grass. There is a water shortage in Florida, and it will probably get worse. Florida native plants are drought resistant as they grow in this area naturally and are adapted to the climate. Natives in general do not need watering, pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizer.

In addition, wildlife can live in the ground cover - unlike grass - which is good for the environment and the ecosystem. Sunshine Mimosa especially attracts butterflies, birds, and bees. It grows more slowly than grass, so it needs less mowing. It is even possible to not mow at all - it will grow about a foot high.

Now after having a Florida native lawn for three years, here's my take:

First, the good:
  • Sunshine Mimosa does not require water. Even in times of drought, it flourishes.
  • Sunshine Mimosa is quite green. People who were initially skeptical of a native lawn often have reacted positively when they see how green it is.
  • Sunshine Mimosa is easy to grow and spreads readily.
  • If you prefer to mow it like grass, it mows easily.
The not so good:
  • Although Sunshine Mimosa is classified as a perennial, I can promise you it is dormant in winter. This means it turns brown. This is fine with me, but in Central Florida, many people seem to want their yard to be green year round.
  • Weeds. Sunshine Mimosa will not crowd out weeds, so you'll have to weed or use a herbicide occasionally.
  • Sunshine Mimosa, true to its name, grows only in direct sunlight. You'll need a different ground cover for your yard's shady areas.
Here's pictures.

First, Sunshine Mimosa in it's natural state (this is from my backyard):

Sunshine Mimosa, from my Back Yard in Florida
Sunshine Mimosa

One question I am often asked is how Sunshine Mimosa looks after it has been mowed. As you can see, it looks very much like grass:

Sunshine Mimosa - Mown
Sunshine Mimosa: Mowed

I have young children, so if the Sunshine Mimosa has been mowed, they can play in the yard, as it forms a grass-like turf.

Hope this helps and I wish everyone luck in their future endeavors with Florida natives. I have a sense this may be the wave of the future, at least in Florida with its climate and water shortage issues. Good luck and feel free to email with questions.