Reasons To Replace Lawns With Ground Cover Plants
Lawns can be a real hassle at times. Even in the best conditions, you will have issues with weeds popping up in the midst of the grass. Weeds like dandelions and annoying crabgrass infestations will wreak havoc on the green turf. Other weeds infiltrate, too.
But when planting ground cover plants, youll avoid much of that. Sure, you may still have some weed issues, but once the ground cover takes over, most weeds wont survive. The dense matting of roots that these hardy little plants put down choke out other growth.
A ground cover can look lush in all sorts of weather, and often requires far less watering than a standard lawn. It requires less frequent fertilization as well. And if the plants begin to get too tall, many types can be trimmed down to size using a standard lawn mower.
Additionally, your lawn will be a cacophony of bright flowers during parts of the year. From spring into the summer and possibly even fall, colored blooms will dapple your yard.
Unlike grasses, your ground cover plants can be a real draw for pollinating insects. Butterflies are often drawn to your plants for nectar, as are bees. If youre trying to grow vegetables, having these beneficial insects at hand is great!
Ground covers dont all have to be traditional. There are miniature succulents and taller plants. Round leaves, fern-like leaves, or even pointed grassy leafed plants are visually appealing.
How To Replace Grass And Mulch With Groundcover
Groundcovers are dirt-hugging plants that spread to form a thick cover in a short time. They are an excellent option if you have a place where grass will not grow or is difficult to maintain, such as a steep slope, under trees or in rocky areas. Low-growing cover plants require less sun and nutrients than grass, yet they add a considerable amount of interest to the landscape Replacing existing grass or mulch with groundcover is a popular option with homeowners who want an easy yet attractive solution to a problem area. The best time to plant groundcover is in the early spring.
Do Plant Succulents In Arid Regions
While many plants only thrive when they receive regular moisture, if you live in a dry location, such as New Mexico, southern Utah, or Nevada, youll get the best results with succulents. These plants, such as ice plant and stonecrop, store water in their thick leaves and roots, and when precipitation is scarce, they live off the water they retain. Not all succulents are prickly like cactus other varieties feature soft, supple leaves, trailing vines, and bright, gem-colored blooms, such as purslane and royal dewflower.
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Replace Your Lawn With A Groundcover
June 03, 2013 | 3min read | BuildDirect
Everyone is aware of climate change now. Well, except for a few deniers who will get it once it hits them personally in the form of high fuel and food prices and severe water restrictions. With that sort of forecast, we need to conserve natural resources.
Lawns are thirsty. The average homeowner uses 60 gallons per day on their lawn. And for what?! What does a huge expanse of grass do? It takes up space, might be pretty and might provide a soft play area for children and pets. A lawn really has no practical function.
Aside from water, lawns demand a lot of your attention. They need to be mowed and weeded. If you are not into digging weeds out , you will be spreading chemical fertilizers to eradicate useful plants like dandelions. You also need to fertilize to keep that bright green color of the sod you put down.
Lawns are not environmentally friendly! There are many options, such as a yard full of native shrubs, trees and flowers, a wildflower meadow, an edible landscape or groundcovers.
Best Ground Cover Plants For Full Shade
Theres a wide variety of plants which prefer to be out of direct sunlight. While some of these can tolerate a little bit of sun, they often thrive in shady conditions. This makes them perfect for those awkward spaces under or around foliage. Theyre also great alongside buildings where the sun rarely reaches plants.
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Style It Up With Slate Chippings
Garden design by Katherine Roper
Heavier and less cat-friendly than gravel, slate chippings are a perfect lawn substitute. Suited to areas of all shapes and sizes they add texture and interest, are easy to lay and come in a selection of different shades.
Blue slate tends to be the most popular but plum, green and graphite are also available. The size of the chippings will not only alter the look and mood created but the spread of the covering.
Smaller 20mm stones do have the ability to walk onto nearby beds and paths, so best to opt for larger, heavier 40mm chips to avoid this. The cool tones and flat shape of this aggregate complement modern garden ideas as well as Japanese-inspired gardens, as garden designer Katherine Roper explains. ‘We used Delabole blue slate chippings in this clients gardens as they wanted a zen-like feel and didnt want a lawn. Aesthetically the blue works well and its darker, so the plants stand out. We painted the fences black for the same reason.’
Do Choose Plants Well Suited To Your Growing Zone
It’s tempting to page through a plant-and-seed catalog and pick the prettiest ones, but even ground cover can be finicky. For example, a plant that does well on the West Coast may not survive bitter New England winters. Check out the USDA Plant Hardiness Map to determine your growing zone, and then buy only the plants that will grow in your region.
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Ohio Native Lawn Replacements
Posted over 3 years ago by Angela B
Tired of wasting time and money? Try replacing your current grass lawn with some of the native Ohio plant suggestions even if it is just a small area to start. Lawn replacements offer many benefits to the environment and you, such as habitats and food for animals, butterflies and bees. Native Ohio plants are accustomed to this region, so they take less maintenance. When you reduce mowing, you also reduce environment and noise pollution, plus youll have more time on your hands to enjoy your yard.
What To Do With Areas Of Yard That Won’t Grow Grass
Grass can be stubborn and sometimes theres no convincing it to thrive. If this is the case, go with it and try a less stressful option. Smart permeable paving ideas with raised planters gravel and boulder gardens planted with grasses and cacti or, perhaps, a timber deck with potted olive and citrus trees can all create a smart and relaxing outside spot needing very little maintenance.
Faced with a shady area then why not devise a network of meandering garden path ideas weaving through shrubs, bamboo and mounds of ground cover. Cover the ground with bark chippings and cut logs to help suppress weed growth and retain moisture too.
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Groundcover For Every Growing Condition
There are groundcovers for every growing condition wet, dry, sunny, shady, sandy soil, clay soil and everything in between. Foliage comes in many textures and colors, and flowers add a subtle touch of color. Replacing your lawn with groundcovers will make your yard a conversation piece with friends and family.
Do away with your dread of weekends spent mowing, weeding and fertilizing, and instead have time to enjoy your yard! Check with your local nursery for the best varieties for your area and growing conditions.
Dont Skimp On Ground Cover Plants
For the best results, space plants based on their predicted spread. For example, if a plant is supposed to cover a three-foot area at maturity, such as many varieties of creeping phlox tend to do, youll want to locate one plant every three feet. If you had a 100 square foot area to plant, youd need at least 33 creeping phlox plants in order to get full coverage. While ground cover typically spreads into a dense carpet, if you plant too few, youll end up with spaces and bare spots where weeds can sneak in.
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Consider Ground Cover Plants
This Japanese-style garden by Maitanne Hunt Gardens uses the moss-like Soleirolia soleirolii as a lawn alternative
Love the lush carpet grass creates, but not the upkeep? Dont worry, there are plenty of other plants that are up to the job when it comes to alternatives to grass. Mat forming plants such as Rupturewort and Bugle are quick to establish and will form a tight mass of leaves in next to no time.
Corsican Thyme releases a fresh, zesty fragrance when trodden on while Creeping Thyme has clouds of tiny purple and white blooms during summer and is a magnet for pollinators.
Although many dont cope with the wear and tear of constant footfall, these ground hugging beauties will instantly spruce up an open area with color, texture and interest.
The team at Maitanne Hunt Gardens share their knowledge of a recent project. ‘We used Mind-your-own-business as an alternative to moss used in Japanese gardens, taking advantage of its naturally mounding, creeping habit to create the impression of the Japanese hills. Vigorous and low growing, this largely evergreen little gem rapidly creeps over the soil surface, filling gaps between paving or bricks and cloaking imperfections, creating a seamless sea of lush tiny bright green leaves.’
You’ll find more of the best ground cover plants in our guide.
Installing Your New Ground Cover
When its time to fill in the now-bare ground, its best to use mats of plants for full coverage, but this can be expensive. More commonly, individual plants are planted no farther than 12 inches apart. Mulch between the plants with pine straw to keep the soil moist, protect it from runoff, and suppress weeds, Wilber says.
For the first two months, water twice a week for 30 minutes. After that, water once a week for the next six months depending on how much it rains. Once the ground cover is established, these relatively drought-proof plants will thrive with normal rainfall. Assuming you have adequate irrigation, weed suppression, appropriate sunlight, and favorable growing temperatures, the plot should fill in within 12 to 18 months, Wilber says.
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Are There Dog Friendly Alternatives To Grass
Lovable as they are, our canine friends do little to help the lawn. Leaving tell-tale yellow and burnt patches behind and the occasional digging spot too, you may be tempted to find more pet-friendly alternatives to grass.
Clover is one good option. It’s not one of the most poisonous plants for dogs, so it’s safe for them to eat, tougher than grass and less likely to stain too. The creeping stems root easily, quickly forming a dense mass of trefoil leaves. It needs little feeding or watering but can continue spreading on to beds and borders too, so not for everyone.
Synthetic turf is another possibility. Soft yet hardwearing underfoot, it is designed to let any water drain through and can also be hosed down and swept if needed. The tough, latex backing ensures that the covering is dig-proof and of course the covering will be entirely mud-free too.
Made from nylon, polypropylene or polyethylene the UV fast grass will not fade or discolour when used by your dog and some products also come with an antibacterial backing which helps to cut down on bacteria and unpleasant odours. Artificial grass comes in different pile depths and its generally thought that a pile of between 25mm- 35mm is most comfortable under-paw.
Selecting The Right Ground Cover Plants
Before you can select a plant as a ground cover, theres some important things to know.
First, youll need to know your soil type. Do you have clay soil? Sandy soil? Loamy soil? Is it well aerated or is it somewhat compacted?
Different plants will prefer different soil types. While some can grow in even poor soil, many prefer richer, well-draining soils. Clay is hard to grow a good ground cover plant on as it can bake to a rock-hard consistency. You may need to amend your soil for specific types of plants.
The area that youll be growing in has an impact as well. If your yard is fully shaded, sun-loving varieties wont work for you. And desert dwellers shouldnt choose mountain plants or those which prefer wetter conditions.
Height is also an issue. Some people want plants that stay only a couple inches tall so they simulate a lawn a bit better. If youre layering in different heights, youll need multiple different sizes.
Speed of growth can be a factor. If youre doing a variety of ground covers, one which grows faster than all the others may become a problem. It can choke out the other plants growth or take over all the available space.
Dont forget to be aware of its temperature requirements! A plant which does well in hot sun may not do well if your temps drop to freezing in the winter. Be mindful of both your average high temps and your low temps, and pick plants that can handle both.
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Ways To Reduce Your Lawn
Lawns are usually desired for childrens play areas, pet runs, sports activities, and framing an entryway to a home or garden. In many cases, however, lawns go largely unused. There are other beautiful options for residential landscapes that require a similar amount of maintenance and provide additional benefits. Even though lawns have been a part of American culture for generations, we are now in an era in which dramatic declines in pollinators and climate change make a compelling case to think differently about lawns and how to manage our land more sustainably.
Turfgrasses are challenging to grow in Marylands climate. They require constant maintenance that comes with costs pesticide exposures to humans and pets, pollution, and water waste, to name a few. Even organic lawn care requires time and expense.
Removing grass and reducing the size of your lawn may be desirable if you:
- Cannot grow turfgrass in certain locations because of a steep slope, unsuitable soil conditions, or too much shade
- Have a lawn that is largely unused and would like to devote your time and resources to other purposes
- Want to manage stormwater runoff on your property and contribute to improving water quality
- Wish to add more diversity, beauty, and ecological value to your landscape.
Whatever your motivations are, there are plenty of ways you can replace all or a portion of your lawn. Here are several options for Maryland residents.
Wrapping Up Our Lawn Alternatives Guide
A gorgeous lawn doesnt need to take hours every week to maintain, treat, and groom! Choosing a grass alternative, especially a native plant, is a wonderful way to add diversity and beauty to your garden without compromising functionality.
Many lawn alternatives can be used for cooking and bee-keeping, support beneficial insects and wildlife, and offer colour and flowers that traditional grass does not.
These lawns can help suppress weeds more effectively to reduce herbicide use, grow better in harsh or tricky conditions, and are more drought, heat and frost-resistant than traditional grasses.
Using these lawn alternatives mean less mowing, less fertilizer, less pesticide and less watering than ever before and most importantly, youre rewarded with chemical-free surroundings safe for children and pets.
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How To Convert Grass Areas To Ground Cover
Grass makes for a high-maintenance landscape. It requires constant trimming, supplemental watering and fertilizing for healthy, neat growth. Reducing the amount of lawn in your landscape and replacing it with hardy ground cover is one way to reduce your landscape’s workload without sacrificing the aesthetics. Once the ground cover becomes established, the plants will require less water, allowing you the added benefit of helping your local environment by conserving water. Ground cover plants also provide stability to the soil, reducing runoff and erosion on slopes and hills.
Stop mowing the lawn. Water the grass deeply, one week before removal to encourage a flush of new growth.
Lay a garden hose or string out on top of the grass, outlining the perimeter of the area you wish to convert to ground cover. Push the blade of a shovel vertically into the ground just inside the marked perimeter, cutting through the grass’s root system to separate it from the surrounding turf. Dig down to a depth of at least 4 inches. Repeat this process around the entire marked perimeter. This will prevent the herbicide from spreading through the grass’s roots to areas you wish to leave unharmed.
Observe the grass, looking for areas that are still green and growing. Treat the area with a second application of herbicide in the same manner as before if living spots remain.
Planting Groundcovers: Spacing The Plants And More
Youll use 50 to 75% less water on groundcovers
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