It's the Plants, Darling

On the joys of going lawnless

by Susan
Time for a progress report on the lawn-to-alternative-groundcover conversion happening in my back yard,

the one that started with this report.

THE PLANTSedumacre350
What started as a trial of about 10 different groundcovers, many of them from Stepables, has morphed into a much smaller palette of creeping sedums only and designwise, it’s looking much better.  There was just too much going on.  Also, I was ignoring some sensible advice I read recently – that lawn replacement plants all have the same light and water requirements.  Not to mention, the 10 types of plants were spreading at radically different rates and the less aggressive ones were just going to lose out to the bullies – and bullies are exactly what you need to cover a former lawn area of any size at all (unless your budget is huge and you can plant ’em nice and tight).

So I choose the plant I had the most of and not coincidentally the one that would spread the fastest: the Sedum acre that arrived here originally as a volunteer.  (The Stepables trials will continue elsewhere in my garden.)  One other creeping-type sedum – also a freebie – has been added to the mix and if it does well, it’ll stay, too.  I may also add some some clover for effect – and for all the good things it does.  After all, who wants another monoculture like the one I got rid of?

BEES GALORE
Just last week the sedum started blooming like crazy – the gold bits in this photo – and one big pay-off of this project became immediately evident: bees!  The good kind, the little pollinators that do no harm and are so embattled of late.  I’m mesmerized by watching them in action.  What a change from the sterility of fescue.

MOW NO MORE
The other and more obvious pay-off hit me a few weeks ago with the first roar of lawn mowers in my neighborhood.  Wow, that’s something I’ll never, ever have to do again – if I can just find a replacement for turfgrass that’s less work, holds soil on my hilly site, can survive the garden hose being slung across it and a little foot traffic, and is better for the environment.

I ain’t giving my little electric mower away yet, but the sedum acre is looking awfully promising.

THE DISCLAIMER
But, because these reports could be taken as signs of rabid anti-lawn fervor on my part, here’s my handy disclaimer.

Posted by on June 3, 2008 at 1:55 pm, in the category It's the Plants, Darling.
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10 responses to “On the joys of going lawnless”

  1. Michele Owens says:

    It’s beautiful!

  2. Reading Dirt says:

    Looks great, and I’m glad the bees love it as well. I was considering creeping thyme for the same reason, but I’m afraid the area I’m considering has afternoon shade and now I’m having trouble figuring out what to put there — besides the grass/moss/clover/geranium excuse for a lawn that is there already.

  3. Pam J. says:

    I love it. It makes traditional lawns look so artificial. Inspiring!

  4. Carol says:

    What are the beautiful pink flowers in the June 3 photo please? I have been trying to identify these and here they are in your blog. Thank you.

  5. susan harris says:

    Carol, they’re Mexican evening primrose, among other names they go by. Latin, Oenothera.

  6. Layanee says:

    Your sedum looks wonderful especially with that Oenothera. I had that in my garden one year. The ‘Siskiyou pink’ cultivar which was spectacular but failed to overwinter which was a great disappointment. It will be interesting to see you new ‘lawn’ throughout the summer.

  7. Carol M says:

    ‘Siskiyou Pink’ is native to Texas and Louisiana, so should be considered a tender perennial (an annual in everything but name) in much of the country.

  8. Joanna says:

    I started pulling up my grass when I moved into my house 11 years ago and am nearly done. I now have a variety of groundcovers, flower beds, shrubs, trees, rocks, and a blooming hell strip. I removed all the grass by hand, aided by one small trowel–post-rain was always best. I’m happy to say I’ve inspired others in my neighborhood (Rosemont in Alexandria). I was able to sell my electric mower a couple of years ago and have a reel mower to cut my minimal grass.

  9. Sophiagrrl says:

    Where do you all find clover seed? I bought some 2 years ago and it’s doing well, but I want to seed another part of my un-lawn. Thanks!

  10. susan harris says:

    Sophia, I’ve bought clover from eBay, and here’s a little story about that: http://sustainablegardeningblog.com/archives/89
    Also, an old-fashioned hardware store near me used to carry it in bulk but sadly, no more.

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