We have spent two-and-a-half years brainstorming about our backyard and how to make it more functional, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. Currently, it is covered in around 1,200 square feet of flagstone – which is beautiful! But it’s a lot of “brown” with no contrasting color and it is a LOT of hardscape – especially for around a pool, which doesn’t allow us to fully use our backyard as a “yard” outside of pool season.
Once upon a time, before we bought this house, dwarf mondo grass grew in between all the flagstone pavers, and from the photos we’ve seen, looked legit like english garden castle grounds. Absolutely stunning.
However, one summer, the Texas heat was way too hot and all the mondo died. Instead of a wildly expensive replant, (I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to risk another costly mondo install only to be met with another crazy hot summer and have it die all over again…) gravel and dirt was brought in to fill in between all of the flagstone. While this was definitely a stopgap, after our first full calendar year here experiencing wild weather and all four seasons North Texas has to offer, it became clear to us would not be a viable, permanent solution.
Nevermind a perfect breeding ground for a different weed variant each season… (weeds are definitely something we know how to grow since being here) – the gravel and dirt don’t really even stay put. With any amount of wind or rain – and we get a lot of both, in large doses when we get it – the rocks go everywhere. It is a constant battle and effort to sweep the flagstone clear, dust the dirt back into place and keep the weeds at bay.
We’ve tried planting regular grass, and it grew! But then it kept growing and isn’t mowable, given the large pieces of flagstone. Nor do we love mowing next to a swimming pool with all the grass clippings going right into the pool We tried a weed-eater: same thing. But the downside to planting real grass in between all our pavers, is that every winter, all the grass here goes dormant. So now we’re left with more brown grass in between brown pavers and it just isn’t warm, inviting or aesthetically happy.
We entertained planting “steppables” or other fast-filling-in, crawling succulents but it was really hard to track down ones that would thrive in our zone. But even then, this would solve the brown grass problem and the mowing problem, but doesn’t take away the weeding problem, or the increased functionality of this large, outdoor space for things like playing soccer, tossing the football, yard games like cornhole, or Heaven forbid: gasp! What if we wanted to put up a tent and sleep in our backyard! At the end of the day, we would still be left with a ton of hardscape.
When we bought this house, we started saving some backyard designs we really loved on Pinterest. A few years later, we revisited those images and were surprised at our initial, early inclinations and inspiration for this space. We love the look of the pool floating in the middle of a lush, green backyard – in the middle of the lawn like you see a lot in the Hamptons, or at French or Italian countryside homes… beautifully manicured backyards, stone detailing and natural hardscape, but then soft, functional softscape designs surrounding the pool. These were some initial saves that we’ve recently revisited:
Recently we went on a deep-dive exploration of turf. My-oh-my has turf come a long way, baby! Gone are the days of the short, shiny green turf unrolled across our grandparents’ patios. Turf is now very realistic, often embedded with cooling fiber technology to help reduce the heat of the surface, environmentally-friendly, many with lifetime warranties, and many made in the USA.
We collected a few bids, looked at a thousand samples, and learned all about various features like blade height, durability, microbial features, styles that are good for pets, playgrounds, landscaping and putting greens.
We ran two ideas by the talented designer and installer and he provided us with two renderings. We then had a third idea, sort of marrying the two and he gladly provided us with that! Here are the final ideas and our thought process:
Option 1: Turf in between all existing flagstone around swimming pool and pump house. Remove existing flagstone on the upper terrace by the french doors of our breakfast nook and install square cement pavers, and fill in with turf. This idea was to incorporate a more modern, grid approach to the upper terrace idea, while keeping the lower portion in line with the existing enchanted gardens vibe, but filling in with turf to get rid of the rocks and dirt, dramatically reduce the liklihood of weeds, and give contrast to the hundreds of feet of brown flagstone to make the space more visually appealing.
Option 2: Same as option 1, but also leave the existing flagstone on the upper terrace to match the flagstone around the swimming pool and pumphouse and turf in between all of the stone. This removes the modern square grid pavers and keeps the consistent look of the flagstone across the entire backyard.
Option 3: Remove all of the flagstone around the swimming pool and replace with turf only. Leave the flagstone around the pumphouse and in the “dining area” of the backyard where we have table and chairs and fill in with turf in between all of that flagstone. Leave the existing flagstone on the upper terrace and fill in with turf in between those stones.
Have you had turf installed at your home? Leave your comments and feedback because we’re pretty sure we’ve reached a decision, but would love to hear your experiences!