Garden of the Month: Artificial turf answers water concerns

The Norrises began relandscaping their yard last fall. The turf, which may last 20-25 years, was installed atop an extensive drainage system.
The Norrises began relandscaping their yard last fall. The turf, which may last 20-25 years, was installed atop an extensive drainage system. Modesto Garden Club

The idea of artificial turf might seem incongruous to an honor like the Modesto Garden Club’s Garden of the Month. But the region’s current drought has opened up a whole new kind of landscape.

The forward thinking of Northgate neighborhood homeowners Bruce and Lori Norris and their desire to have a low-maintenance yard made their 1963 home at 313 Northgate Drive the top selection for the garden club’s March honor.

The Norrises have lived at their current address for three years, having previously lived across the street. When they began re-landscaping their front and back yards in October, artificial turf proved to be a perfect solution to their busy lives.

“We think low-maintenance, and as a result, turf was the answer,” the couple said in a news release from the Modesto Garden Club.

Bruce Norris works in sales and Lori Norris is a registered nurse; they also have two teenagers – all of which leaves them little time for yard work.

While more expensive than sod – $3,000 to $5,000 more – artificial turf has benefits that outweighed those costs for the couple. With the turf, there’s no watering, no mowing, no weeds, no sprinkler heads, no patches of dead grass. It’s also pet friendly because it just rinses off and it lasts 20 to 25 years.

Ken Westfall served as their landscape architect, and it was Charlie Malone, who did the landscaping work, who suggested artificial turf, according to the garden club release.

Though artificial, the turf looks real thanks to the weaving of yellow and brown colors. There is a large drainage system underneath.

The grass is where “artificial” ends, however. Two city trees in the front yard were replaced with Chinese pistachio trees. Plants such as Razzleberry, Pink Muhly, New Zealand flax, Indian hawthorn, Yeddo hawthorn, Iceburg rose and star jasmine have plenty of growth space. They’re planted in assorted colors – purple, pink, white, and yellow – with repeating patterns.

A microspray and drip water system cuts watering to once a week.

In addition, 15 tons of boulder accents, a dry cobble pond and different sizes of river rock complement the landscaping, along with 21 lights around the yard that set it aglow after dark.


What: Modesto Garden Club Monthly Meeting

When: Thursday, 10:45 a.m. snacks and talk; noon meeting and speaker

Where: ONE Church, 2361 Scenic Drive, Modesto

Info: Bambi Porter, owner of Gypsy Cowgirl Kitchen Co., Oakdale, will explain how to herb-infuse olive oil; Ann Schellman will speak on “Fairy Houses, Fairy Gardens and Miniature Gardening”

Cost: No charge to members, visitors $10

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