In my first installment on Something Other Than Grass I discussed that there are plants that can be used as a substitute for grass. I noted that the alternative species included:
· Ornamental Grasses
· Plants that love shade
· Plants that love sun
· Low water ground covers
· Acid-Tolerant Plants
I then discussed ornamental grasses pointing out that they were different species than turf grass that required no mowing. I noted that there were types of ornamental grass that grow into unique shapes including tufts and sprays, stands or flowing and shimmering sweeps. I explained that some ornamental grasses could be invasive. However, if grown in their native region, they should be okay.
I then listed names of ornamental grasses that you could consider as a substitute for grass.
In this article, Part II of the series, I will discuss alternatives to grass that thrive in shade.
Plants That Love Shade
No doubt during your exploratory journeys into forests you’ve noticed moss growing on the north side of trees. You may be surprised to learn that moss is a great substitute for grass in cooler regions of the country. Although its is not as tough as most grasses, it does stand up to occasional foot traffic.
You can place plugs of moss complete with roots into soil about 6-inches apart and keep them damp. The moss will spread until they form a solid surface, often within one growing season.
There are a plethora of mosses that have different textures and thicknesses.
The best mosses to grow are those that already appear in your immediate area. There are also a large number of
examples including Polytrichum, Thuidium and Dicranum that survive transportation.
Your best resource for gathering moss is your own backyard and in wooded areas. Experts suggest that you gather a variety of moss species and genera to increase the chance that one or more will survive on your lawn.
Ideal moss species that can serve as a lawn include:
· Eurhynchium praelongum
· Colliergonella cuspidate
· Polytricum juniperinum
Another flora that could prove ideal as a substitute for grass is Creeping Charlie. Many readers may consider this species a destructive weed. However, a member of the mint family, Creeping Charlie can actually serve as a great ground cover in areas of your property where there is partial shade. It also offers color in its small, pale blue or lilac-hued flowers. Moreover, you don’t have to mow it, fertilize it or even water it. It is also known as ground ivy, gill-on-the-ground, creeping jenny, catsfoot, alehoof and tunhoof.
Experts suggest that Creeping Charlie be contained in one spot and surrounded by a wide and water-resistant border.
More examples of ground covers that are ideal as alternatives to grass include Snow-on-the Mountain, Lily-of-the-Valley, and Sweet Woodruff. These perennials love shade and require very little water or much care. They grow into a dense, weed-resistant canopy of leaves and flowers. So they could prove ideal for narrow passageways between a path as well as the north side of a garage.
(Next time: Plants that love sun)