Alternatives to lawns? : LUSENET : garden project : One Thread

I share xeney's hatred of lawns -- they're boring and environmentally unsound -- they suck up too much water and lawn mowers are noisy and pollute.

But what are alternatives? I've heard about grasses that only grow to a few inches and don't need much water. Is this a fairy tale? Surely everyone would grow them. How about other low-growing plants that can be walked on -- do they exist? Finally, how about landscaping which doesn't involve lawns? Paths, patios and little hidden courtyards are romantic...

What do other lawn haters do?


-- Amy Brown (, March 11, 1999


I'm as skeptical as you are about no-mow or no-water lawns. There are some ground covers that will bear a little traffic, like thyme, isotoma, and dichondra -- but thyme won't take *much* traffic, isotoma takes a lot of water, and dichondra is subject to all kinds of pests. All three are best for small areas.

I think our solution will probably be to turn our tiny little lawn into garden space, and in the small areas where we want something like a lawn, we'll use either isotoma or thyme, depending on the location. But we're open to suggestions -- the lawn is a bigger headache than the sinkhole.

-- Xeney (, March 11, 1999.

I remembered reading somewhere that Chamomile was a traditional replacement for lawn, I found this about the trample-friendly of the plant:

"Gardeners, too, have found many uses for chamomile, especially for lawns. Shakespeare's Falstaff noted of the herb that "the more it is trodden on the faster it grows." Thousands trample the famous chamomile lawn at Buckingham Palace, with no ill effect to the herb. Chamomile covers garden seats and walkways, allowing people to enjoy its pleasant, refreshing scent as they stroll through the grounds."

says it is found growing in 'dry fields', so I'm thinking it doesn't require quite as much water as the trad lawn.


-- Amanda Page (, March 13, 1999.

We have lots and lots of lawn at our recently acquired house -- more than I'd like, but also more than I can convert into garden into one season. So what we're doing in the interim is completely ditching the little front lawn, and replacing it with a bed of periwinkle, alyssum, and maybe some time, surrounded by a short lavender hedge to keep out the dogs.

-- Jeliza (, March 16, 1999.

I have an extremely small garden behind our rowhouse apartment in the city, with very little soil depth before you hit one of those god forsaken underground IceAge boulders the northeast is so famous for. I discovered this (the boulder) while ripping up the ground cover I inherited to put in some flowers. I'd love to tell you what the ground cover was, but sadly I can only tell you that it looks like pine and smells like pine, but it crawls and has an incredibly light root system, rooting more like a rug than a plant. It requires a lot of sun and it's not something I'd want to walk barefoot through (as it dries and becomes brittle in winter), but it is attractive in an interesting bush-on-the-ground kind of way.

-- Alexis Massie (, March 19, 1999.

It's true...there is such an animal as a short drought tolerant lawn type thing. It's called Buffalo Grass and it never needs to be mowed (unless you prefer the golf course look, then go for it), it hardly needs water ( I live in the southwest and I water it about 3 times a summer), certainly isn't an all season green lawn and if you over water it it will die. It also loves to spread, which is great to an extent. Oh and one more catch, the seeds are somewhat hard to find, thank god for catalogs. High Country Gardens carries them, and I think Plants of the Southwest does.


-- Dominique (, February 23, 2000.

Alexis, I think I know what you're talking about -- creeping juniper, right?

I think white clover makes a pretty lawn. It's hardy but soft.

-- gwen (, February 28, 2000.

Our next door neighbor has let his lawn totally die. He's planning to put in fruit trees. This is fine with us.

There's another house down the block where they've done kind of a "dry creek" thing with rocks and then plants artfully arranged with them. It's a little phony, but it looks good.

We're planning to fence in much of our front yard and make it into a patio.

-- Lizzie (, March 14, 2000.

Wildflowers, natural groundcover, and watever else you find in your local "pristine" areas.

Not always easy or easy on the eyes at first, but pays big time in the long haul. (Imagine, a lawn that that can take care of you, verses you taking care of it!)

Just a thought.


-- Greg Smith (, March 24, 2000.

Are there places where pristine areas are still pristine? Most of the "wild" grasses in California are actually weeds that came in with hay crops. I have no idea what grows here naturally -- but whatever it is, it very likely turns completely brown in the summer.

-- Beth (, March 24, 2000.

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