Alternative Lawn Ideas
Plants as Alternative Lawn Ideas
Many people love a stripy green lawn but it can be hard work to keep it looking good. Sometimes there are areas in a garden where you might want a patch of green without all the hassle of maintenance, where mowing grass is not a viable option. In these situations there are plants that could be used. Time to use our imagination! Here are some plants as alternative lawn ideas:
A chamomile lawn
One of the most common alternatives to a grass lawn is chamomile, a popular choice in Elizabethan gardens – it is said that Francis Drake was bowling on a camomile lawn at Plymouth when called to face the Armada. The best variety to grow as a lawn is Chamaemelum nobile ‘Treneague, which forms a gorgeously aromatic carpet. It is very easy to grow from seed and takes about three months to establish properly. Not suitable for heavily shaded areas, poorly drained soils or places with a high footfall but given the right situation, chamomile makes a good, low maintenance lawn.
Using thyme in a dry position
Similarly creeping thyme, Thymus serpyllum, smells fabulous underfoot and does the job in a sunny site on free draining soil. It will not cope as a football pitch or playground for dogs but thyme only needs a couple of prunings a year to keep it looking good.
Let’s re-think about clover and moss
Clover and moss, once considered weeds in the grass, deserve some consideration. Clover creates nitrogen, thus enriching the soil and its attracts bees in abundance – a wonderful thing to have in any garden as they pollinate the vegetables and flowers. However, bees and barefoot children are not a good combination so clover is not necessarily a child friendly option. Moss on the other hand, is fun for little hands to pick and a good choice for a shady spot where hardly anything else will grow. To establish, buy moss plugs (small clumps of moss with the roots intact) plant 15cm apart keep moist while young and the youngsters off until it forms a thick carpet of delicious dark green.
Alternative lawn ideas for shade
Golden creeping Jenny, Lysimacia nummularia ‘Aurea’ can be a nuisance neighbour if it is allowed to spread around a damp garden but if hemmed in with paving, this golden variety makes an eye-catching ground cover feature. It requires very little attention other than an occasional light trim with shears. Another potential invader, mind-your-own-business, Soleirolia soleirolii, when confined in a small space makes an excellent choice for moist, shaded areas. It can tolerate sun or shade, so a great grass substitute for a shaded courtyard, although it can get out of hand.
Alternative lawn ideas – ground cover mint and grasses
Corsican mint, Mentha requienii, is a low-growing alternative to grass that has a calming minty aroma and attractive clusters of bright green leaves It grows happily in full sun or partial shade but can rot in wet conditions. Like all mint species, it is invasive and spreads rapidly, so this is another one that requires an enclosed space.
My favourite, alternative grass because of the texture of leaf, is the dwarf mono grass, Ophiopogon planiscapus, ‘Minor.’ It’s tufts of strappy green leaves grow easily in sun or shade provided it’s not too frequently trodden down.
A wildflower meadow
Perhaps one of the best alternative lawn ideas is to create a wildflower meadow with a path mown through. There are many different varieties of wildflower meadow seed mixes available to suit all conditions. They can be tricky to establish but once you’ve got the hang of it, a wildflower meadow is not only a thing of beauty, great for wildlife, and, low maintenance. For more information on how to create a wildflower meadow, checkout this article.