by Matt Gibson
Want to eliminate the need to mow your yard and find yourself seeking some low-maintenance lawn alternatives? Check out these eight plants perfect for wild lawns that do not require mowing. We’ve handpicked a few alternatives to grass for you to choose from when you’re planning out your new, zero-mowing-required, wild lawn landscape.
‘Starting with these eight plants for your wild lawn should be a breeze. Start replacing your lawns grass today to take the (sometimes backbreaking) work out of landscaping and simultaneously take an eco-friendly step toward cutting down on your pollution from mower emissions in the process.
Red Clover for Wild Lawns
Red clover is very cheap—we’re talking about four dollars for 4,000 square feet. At this price, you can’t afford not to make the switch. Red clover also saves you money because it does not require any fertilizer to continue growing. In fact, the clover is actually a lawn conditioner. Its place in your lawn will provide a nitrogen boost to the soil it inhabits, as well as to surrounding soils.
Red clover requires no watering, no mowing, and no fertilizers to thrive (making it great for xeriscape gardens). Mowing, however, can be done at your own discretion. Red clover will spread quickly, so it makes a great choice to cover large areas. The only drawback is that its foliage is somewhat fragile, so you won’t want to plant red clover on pathways or in high-traffic areas. Homeowners with dogs that like to frolic outdoors might pick a different plant, or use clover in a part of the yard that pets don’t play in.
Location selection is key when using creeping charlie, which is actually a weed. Bushels of tiny rounded leaves and tiny blooms provide a thick but very durable ground cover alternative for pets and humans alike to spend time playing in or spreading out for an afternoon catnap on it’s pillowy-soft and fragrant minty-smelling mounds.
No mowing, fertilizing, or watering needed for Charlie. In partially shaded areas, though, this low-lying ground cover can make a great option for large swaths of ground you need to fill. Unless you want creeping charlie to creep it’s way all over your property, however, you will want to take care to plant this species only in locations that are well contained and have a strong, large border.
Used throughout history as an air freshener, sweet woodruff offers a pleasant scent and a pretty texture to compliment a variety of landscapes. Its star-shaped leaves and pretty white flowers provide a picturesque addition to any wild lawn setup.
Never plant sweet woodruff in full sunlight, however, as it can’t take the heat. A nice cool, shady location is where this plant thrives. No mowing and no watering are needed, except in cases of extreme drought or dryness. Sweet woodruff only grows about two inches high, so you will never have to worry about giving it a trim.
Buffalo grass is a meadow grass that grows naturally north to Montana and all the way down to Mexico, spreading out from the center of the North American continent as far as Louisiana to the east and Colorado to the west. The thick blankets of turf grow from four to eight inches in height, varying from dark green to blue-green during the growing season and turning a light straw color in the winter.
As part of a cultivated lawn, buffalo grass enjoys full sun or partial shade. It performs well in gardens of many different USDA gardening zones, including 1-3, 10-11, 14-16, and 18-24. When planting from seed, use a mix of female plants, which produce flowers underneath that are not visible, and male plants, which create flowers at the top of the plants. Different varieties result in types of grass that vary in density and color.
Moss is a simple solution for a wild lawn if you have a nice shady area. A plush, velvety carpet of evergreen moss is a great alternative to grass, with no mowing and little to no watering needed for this drought resistant shade-lover. Another great thing about moss is that there are so many different varieties and styles of moss to choose from or combine in different areas of your landscape. Different varieties come in a wide array of textures and colors, and most never grow higher than one inch off the ground.
Installation of moss is super easy to do, and most specimens will fill the entire area you planted them in within just one growing season. Simply press moss plugs gently into the soil, spaced six inches apart throughout the section that you want the moss to encompass, then keep the ground cool and slightly damp, and you will have a plush mossy ground cover in no time.
For a total, all-in-one lawn replacement, take a moment to ponder the possibility of Dutch clover. Unlike red clover, Dutch clover is durable enough to stomp around on. It’s also naturally drought and pest-resistant, not to mention very pleasing to the eye. Dutch clover grows wildly in many meadows, and its intricate white flowers provide a beautiful backdrop for a lawn that needs little to no mowing. If you want to see a bit more wildlife on your property, Dutch clover may bring in deer, which love to graze on it. This can become a visual issue if there is a lot of deer in your area, however, as overgrazing tends to leave Dutch clover looking a bit patchy.
Large, impermeable borders are essential to keep Dutch clover from spreading out and killing other plants that it comes into contact with, so we recommend either committing to plant only Dutch clover or taking special care to keep it from spreading any further than you want it to. If you’re looking for just the right spot, Dutch clover is perfect for high traffic areas of your lawn.
Snow-in-summer gets its name from the visually astounding blanket of white blooms it creates throughout the spring and summer months. It’s silvery-gray foliage is almost equally as stunning as the blooms. This beautiful perennial is not an ideal candidate for large lawn replacements, but adding a section or two of snow-in summer to your yard can create an awesome display of brilliance for passersby and garden admirers.
Hardy and resilient to poor sun, soil, and water conditions, snow-in-summer is a great addition to areas of your landscape that don’t get a lot of heavy foot traffic. Its fragile foliage and blooms make it a bad choice for high traffic areas, so be sure to pick a few out-of-the-way spots for it to spread itself out in.
Red Creeping Thyme
In the early summer mornings, when the bright red blooms of red creeping thyme begin to unfold and display their brilliance, it’s easy to see why nature has planted so much of its lawn with red creeping thyme. Creating a dense mat that can withstand moderate amounts of foot traffic and turning a pretty bronze during the winter months, red creeping thyme is an excellent choice for any low-maintenance lawn alternative renovation.
Though no mowing is required and very little watering is ever needed except for in cases of extreme drought, red creeping thyme can be a little on the expensive side, and installing the herb as a ground cover could end up being a labor-intensive process, as red creeping thyme requires that you kill off all other grasses in the area before you plant it. To cut back on expenses and maximize your landscapes visual potential, install small beds of red creeping thyme in between larger no-mow lawn alternatives.
Videos About Low-Maintenance Lawns
This video, created two and a half years after the poster switched to a low-maintenance lawn setup, shows how Fleur de Lawn works as a stand-in for regular grass, doesn’t need mowing, and is drought tolerant, self-seeding, and self-feeding:
Check out this informative guide with tips and tricks on how to establish a moss lawn or garden area:
This testimonial is full of useful information about replacing your lawn with Dutch clover, as well as how it may bring a lot of bees to your area to help pollinate and encourage new growth:
Want to Learn More About Low-Maintenance Lawns?
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SFGATE Homeguides covers Grass That Does Not Require Mowing
Medium covers 10 Low Maintenance Lawn Alternatives
Planet Natural Research Center covers Alternatives to Grass
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