The Armstrong garden in Morro Bay: Why not try artificial turf?

Imagine this: No more mowing, watering or worrying about gophers making holes in your lawn. Artificial turf is great for those looking to reduce yardwork.

Special to The TribuneOctober 31, 2012 

  • WHY ARTIFICIAL TURF DESERVES RESPECT: FROM THE ARMSTRONGS

    • It’s low upkeep — no mowing, no fading, no wear.
    • Installation includes leveling the area.
    • Screening underneath prevents gopher damage.
    • It reduces water usage.
    • Rainfall drains readily.
    • It’s cleaner and safer for young children.
    • There’s no doggie damage.

Nick and Nancy Armstrong’s decision to move to Morro Bay in 2008 was partially based on its location, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Their adult children and young grandchildren live in each metropolitan area.

Also, Nick’s a sailor, and they both enjoy oceanside living. They had spent time in Morro Bay previously, and discovered numerous similarities with their previous home in Snug Harbor, Rhode Island.

Their house, on a quiet street near the Morro Bay golf course, is ideal for two, yet convenient for visitors, with a two-bedroom guest suite on a lower level. A spacious sun room and adjoining deck provide a convenient transition between indoors and out. Nancy placed plant containers and whimsical accents around the perimeter of the deck, leaving ample play space for the grandchildren.

The Armstrong’s first garden project was to enlarge a shallow koi pond in the front yard. After obtaining advice and supplies from The Pond Place in San Luis Obispo, Nick expanded the pond, created a “safe hideout” for the koi, installed a new liner and pump, and built a rocky waterfall for the re-circulating water. A motion-sensor camera “shoots” night visitors, which have included raccoons and herons.

A high wooden fence encloses the back yard; it’s a safe place for their two exuberant Australian shepherds. However, it developed a serious problem — gophers! The gopher damage to the lawn was ugly, but the dogs made it even worse by attempt- ing to dig the little critters out of their tunnels. In addition, there were discolored patches from dog excretions. While lamenting this situation in conversation, a friend recommended a grass substitute called Global Syn-turf, available locally at Mier Brothers in Arroyo Grande.

Having seen unconvincing artificial turf previously, they had reservations. But they were impressed by the more realistic appearance of this product, its permeability, and especially the promise that its application over wire netting would permanently exclude gophers. After deliberation, they ordered an installation to cover a 15-foot-by-30-foot area, about two-thirds of the space. The job, which included stripping the existing lawn, was completed in just three days.

Planting borders were left on three sides of the new turf. A new flagstone patio on the fourth side occupies about one-third of the yard. With both sunny and shaded areas, it’s large enough to accommodate groups, and is furnished with comfortable wooden chairs and a table.

In the opposite border, three citrus trees, lemon, grapefruit and Clementine, are protected from potential dog-damage by white pickets and wire fencing. Assorted nautical antiques and humorous accents are displayed on the long side fence.

A wide planting bed be low the deck of the house is a work in progress. Nick and Nancy built the stacked-rock edging with rock from Central Coast Landscape Products. They hand-selected and hauled the first 250-pound load in their Volvo to save money, then took a break before finishing. Now that it’s completed, they’re considering plants to accompany the existing lantana and aloes.

Sharon Crawford is a freelance writer who lives in Los Osos. E-mail: sdcraw ford@charter.net

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