Life after lawns
By Karen Paton-Evans, Special To The Star May 18, 2011
The cool, tickling sensation of healthy green grass between your toes is one of summer's simple pleasures. Well, maybe not so simple.
To keep your lawn green and supple, you need to spend time and energy mowing, weeding and watering regularly.
There is an alternative to grass, particularly in lowtraffic areas in your yard. At Canada Blooms 2011 in March, Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association (LOHTA#, representing more than 2,000 provincial horticultural professionals, revealed lawn alternatives that: will work with nature and pesticide bans, don't mind poor or dry soil, and make a yard more esthetically interesting than grass turning brown in midsummer.
Demonstrating the incredible variety of colour, shape and texture of perennials ideally suited for ground cover and rooftop gardens, LOHTA planted its stunning Canada Blooms' entrance garden with sedums and grasses on flat, sloped and elevated sections.
Sun and heat tolerant, shallow rooting sedums don't complain in a heat wave. Sedum telphium 'Sunset Cloud' is a little charmer, with purple-grey foliage and a pink serrated edge. Sedum hybridum 'Czar's gold' is green year-round, showing off in late spring and late summer with an abundance of yellow flowers.
Ornamental grasses can liven up the perimeter of an alternative lawn with spiky height and surprising tones. Festuca glaca 'Elijau Blue' #Blue Fescue) is a tufted tidy grass with a blue hue. Bouteloua gracilis #Mosquito Grass# is an attractive addition with its purplish-blue seed heads.
"I generally advise if people are converting an area from lawn into low plantings they consider doing it in a couple of stages, pick one manageable area first, get the new plantings established," LOHTA public relations manager Denis Flanagan says. "This will ensure weed growth is kept in check, will allow the gardener to review the success of the project before going ahead and tearing up yards and yards of lawn to find that it is unmanageable the first season."
Flanagan adds he has several areas of ground cover in his own garden. "An area that is a fairly high-traffic area has flagstone stepping stones interplanted with creeping thyme and bordered with some lowgrowing cotoneaster."
"A small strip of grass in front of my house I am encouraging the white clover to be the dominant species. I allow the clover to grow high enough to set seed before mowing," Flanagan explains.
"One of my favourite ground covers is cranesbill; I use this in the jogs in my front courtyard to transition between the brick and the perennial gardens."
Alternatives to lawns can be a "great solution in most situations," he adds, but "a word of caution would be in high pedestrian traffic areas, such as close to schools, corner lots, etc., where a traditional lawn area might still be the best solution."
via Life after lawns.