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Does anyone have ground cover instead of a grass lawn?
Old 12-24-2013, 03:53 PM   #1
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Does anyone have ground cover instead of a grass lawn?

Experiences... Pros..? Cons...? etc.
I know it's the middle of winter, and here at least the current ground cover is snow, but I'm thinking forward.
And even now that I have more free time, I prefer to not spend ANY of it mowing. I mean, when I worked from home, I could tolerate mowing on the company's time. But to spend ER time on the task is unthinkable. Nor do I want to pay someone else to mow, being the cheapskate I am. Just sick of the whole wasteful maintenance scene, not to mention the noise, noise, noise, NOISE (to quote The Grinch). And I've already fallen enough behind the Joneses I don't care what they think. Spring will reveal my shoddy lawn and I'd be willing to spend the $$$ needed one-time to avoid ongoing care expenses, if a viable alternative exists.

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Old 12-24-2013, 03:55 PM   #2
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We did back in San Diego, in the 1970's. Even though we didn't have to mow it, and even though it was supposed to be hardy and suited to the environment there, it required so much more care than grass that it was a pain. YMMV

I think the best ground cover would be concrete, personally. Honestly I would cover my lot with concrete if I thought it would not lower the re-sale value.

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Old 12-24-2013, 04:22 PM   #3
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Here in Colorado, xeriscape is becoming much more popular - almost necessary given the drought conditions we have been experiencing. Big yards full of green grass are a thing of the past here...
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Old 12-24-2013, 04:34 PM   #4
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Crushed rock of various sizes and colors is the standard ground cover out here in Arizona.
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Old 12-24-2013, 04:35 PM   #5
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We tried putting large areas, that otherwise would have been grass, into various "low maintenance" ground covers: creeping juniper (low-growing shrub), ajuga (low-growing herb), liriope (low-growing grasslike herb), and a couple others I've forgotten. Invasive Canada thistle - the metastatic cancer of weeds - drove us to rip them all out and plant tall fescue, which snaps its fingers at Canada thistle.

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Old 12-24-2013, 04:40 PM   #6
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We have tried a number of different ground covers, some successfully, some not.

What will work for you depends entirely on your local conditions (soil, rainfall, temperatures, and sun/shade ratios), and I don't think it's possible to generalize and give any recommendations.

Here in southern Ohio, we have had good luck with pachysandra, euonymus, and a couple of others, but the performance is inconsistent from year to year. I have no idea what might work in other areas, but if you can find knowledgeable employees at a good nursery or garden store, you can certainly get some good ideas.
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Old 12-24-2013, 04:47 PM   #7
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1. Rocks, need a weed preventive material underneath, as do wood chips.
2. Colored shredded tires- good for about 5 years then an overlay with new.
3. Round up and green paint.
4. Driveway sealer.
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Old 12-24-2013, 05:26 PM   #8
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Some good replies!

Have tried different things with varying degrees of success. The most important advice given above is to not skimp on preparing the site. Roundup/Wipeout then till it up and let things (weed seeds) germinate if you have the time then Roundup again. Put any new soil and amendments down before the second Roundup. Then decide what you are going to plant depending on conditions and recommendations from your local nursery and gardener friends (and cost). I would put down something like Preen (a pre-emergent killer) as you plant or just after and be prepared to put it down for the first few years until things thicken up enough to block light enough to prevent weed seeds from germinating. Also mulch very liberally. If you go with something like junipers you could also put down landscape fabric.
I've had good luck with various spreading junipers, Japanese spurge (Pachysandra), English Ivy (Hedra helix) and Periwinkle (Vinca minor). Not so much luck with Cotoneaster. Pachysandra and Ivy are very quick to establish and hardy. Pachysandra has fragrant flowers that the bees love but they aren't really pretty. I like Periwinkle best of all but it is a bit slower to get established. It has pretty purple or white flowers late spring and again although less profuse late summer. Not particularly fragrant. Once established, Periwinkle is very tough and can be walked on with out much effect. The denser you plant, the sooner you will have an effective ground cover. I have a deer problem and they don't bother the Periwinkle or Pachysandra but will eat the Ivy. I have another area where I have hosta as a ground cover but it has to be in enclosed area or regularly sprayed or the deer will eat it like crazy.
Good luck with whatever you choose. Cheers.
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Old 12-24-2013, 10:58 PM   #9
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We have dymondia which is great, if you live in San Diego. You need something that is going to tolerate your weather. I also have shrubs, perennials, some hardscape, rock, ornamental grasses and a little pond, but I like to garden. If I ever get to the point where I can't or don't want to garden, I'm selling the house and moving to the plushest condo that I can afford.
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Old 12-25-2013, 07:03 AM   #10
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Our water utility pays people to xeriscape. Our neighborhood is still mostly traditional lawns. Many are starting to xeriscape. Mulch with native plants here and there is a popular option. A few are putting in edible front yards instead of lawns. Some have mainly landscape rocks, and a few just let their lawns die and leave it like that.

If we were going to stay in our house long term I would xeriscape. But we plan to downsize to a townhouse or condo before too long, so I am not sure what we will do in the interim.

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