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Home Sweet Home
The Anti-Lawn 
4th-May-2008 03:10 pm

It is not possible for me to mow a lawn.  Well, not impossible, but certainly unwise.  I am allergic to grass clippings.  When I had my 1/5 of an acre lot to tend before my marriage, it would take me an entire weekend, starting after work on Friday, for me to mow my lawn.  For every 10 minutes of mowing time, I would spend 30 minutes recovering from the asthma attack.  I quickly decided to afford a lawn care contractor.

In Chicago, there are lots and lots of entrepreneurial lawn maintenance companies with immigrant (read: cheap) labor.  Not so much in SE Michigan.  So, lawn care falls to Husband.

Husband hates mowing grass.  And, as is true with most human beings and most certainly true of most husbands, he can be remarkably unable to do that which he hates doing.   For Havoc House, we finally broke down and hired help, which is more expensive for less service than I had in Chicago, but much better than the nothing we were doing for ourselves.  We can (just) manage that with our 1 acre lot.  But 25 acres?

So, in designing our new house, I promised Husband there would be no need for mowing.  Since most of our landscaping is woods, this seemed an easy promise to make.  What non-wooded area we have around the house is destined to be garden beds and pathways.  Still, there are two areas of ... well, that's the question.  If not grass, what?

I'm doing a lot of research into ground covers as alternatives to grass.  Creeping thyme, clover, mondo grass ... 

So, all you established gardeners out there -- what do you suggest as a walkable, drought-resistant, non-mowing, low-maintenance ground cover to replace a lawn in zone 5?  (We might be in a little pocket of zone 6, but I can't guarantee it.)

6th-May-2008 11:45 pm (UTC) - N lawn options
I wish I could send you pictures of our garden/yard. I would have to figure out attachments.

We never mow and we have some grass at the bottom of our hill before the woods begin. True, we tried to have a fairly extensive meadow and the whole thing became weeds in no time. The solution was extensive rock gardens and bark mulch on the paths and we have a great many beds (probably an acre's worth. True, bark mulch can get tiresome and I am converting to gravel paths close to the house in order to reduce dragging debris into the house.

Can you describe the area you are covering with plantings - ground-covers or something else. How far away are the trees? Do you like to garden? The perfect ground cover is an elusive beast and ground-covers like vinca and clover are invasive in our zone 8. I avoid anything invasive and if you are smart you will do the same and not risk that you alter your beautiful woods. I actually think you are asking the wrong question first (i.e. what ground cover) rather than figuring out the kind of garden you want. Once you have a picture in your mind you can create the "hard scape" - any retaining wall, patio, spots for sitting etc. After that It is easier to see the shape of the beds you may want to establish. You may need to terrace the land if you are on a hill (cannot remember and am too busy gardening to check it out). Water runs down hill and your plants will do much better on terraces than on sloping ground. Where do any ornamental or fruit trees need to go? Oh, these are exciting times Carol.
All the best.
7th-May-2008 05:47 pm (UTC) - Re: N lawn options

1. I am so glad you commented here. I've missed you!

2. This requires more than a mere reply -- I'll post another post on this subject as soon as I have today's work done.
6th-May-2008 11:50 pm (UTC) - ivy and periwinkle
Make sure ivy isn't invasive in your area. It is horrid here, climbs trees and spreads like wild fire. As I mentioned in my post, periwinkle is to be avoided as well but that may be zone specific as most plants can be invasive somewhere. Don't plant hollies either.
8th-May-2008 01:43 am (UTC)
Did you see the NYTimes article about using moss to have a no-care lawn?

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