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Home Turf: Goodbye to Grass, with Blogger Morgan Satterfield


Home Turf: Goodbye to Grass, with Blogger Morgan Satterfield

July 20, 2015

Some of us toy with the idea of getting rid of our lawns. In Southern California, it’s no joke. Living smack in the middle of drought country, blogger Morgan Satterfield of The Brick House recently tore out the turf and replaced it with a water-saving garden of succulents.

Satterfield, who subsidized the landscape project with a grant from her local water district (which offers gardeners up to $6,000 to go grass-free), says,  “After years of procrastination, a few false starts and multiple plans, we finally got it together enough to rip out the grass (aka weeds) and put in something low maintenance and much more drought friendly.”

Ready for the big reveal?

Photography by Morgan Satterfield via The Brick House.

Above: Through a drought-relief program called SoCal Watersmart (operated by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California), Morgan got a $2-per-square-foot rebate to help cover the project’s costs. Through the program, residential customers are eligible for up to $6,000 if they replace turf with other plants to create a permeable landscape.


Above: The front yard circa 2011; scruffy turf grass with patches of weeds has the effect of making the house look lonely in an empty landscape.

Above: “It took us about four months to rip out the grass, level the yard, and plant the first few tiny plants,” says Satterfield.

Above: “Since we were doing this DIY-style and only a few sections at a time, for many, many months it looked like the crazy random cactus dirt yard and neighbors gave us the stink eye or would bring by a random pity cactus or two,” says Satterfield.


Above: “We ended up doing everything ourselves and as low cost as possible, like hand shoveling 15 tons of DG that we would buy and transport in our truck one half load at a time or grabbing any sizable rock that we saw on the side of the road in a dirt field,” says Satterfield. “Rocks are crazy heavy and those nice big landscape boulders are crazy expensive to buy and get delivered–so the size of the rocks throughout the landscape represent the maximum amount we could physically lift.”

Above: The top layer of decomposed granite is Palm Springs Gold, available in two pebble sizes from KRC Rock.

Above: Agaves “do really well in our terrible soil and horrible climate,” says Satterfield. “They hurt to plant and will give you a poke once in awhile, but they are super low maintenance and now survive on rainwater.”

Above: “Artichoke agave; it combines my two favorite things–artichokes and indestructible plants,” Satterfield says. “It grows soooooo slow, but we randomly found a few at Lowes in the houseplant section for $17.”


Above: Mexican feather grass planted alongside the driveway helps “soften things up and disguises the ugly fence,” says Satterfield. See more ideas for Perennial Grasses in our archives.

Above: In an earlier DIY project, Satterfield created a slatted enclosure and privacy zone for her front entryway. Read more about it at DIY: Slat Railing Projects on Remodelista.

For more garden makeovers, see:

Finally, get more ideas on how to plant, grow and care for various grasses with our Grasses: A Field Guide.

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