I want to get my lawn off grass

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Ray, May 11, 2002.

  1. Ray

    Ray Member

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    Location:
    Port Coquitlam
    Hi,

    We are just about to take possession of our first house, way out east in PoCo. The former owner was fanatical about killing moss, but I am no fan of lawn mowing, so would like to encourage the moss and let the lawn die off. What is the best way to go about turning a lawn over to moss?

    Are there commercial sources of moss available? Which ones are native to the Lower Mainland? Can one just go out, find some, scrape them up, take them home and lay them down?

    I would also like to put in some other hardy ground cover plants, preferrably native plants. Any suggestions? The lawn will be used by a couple of exhuberant kids, so we want to keep it 'playable'.

    Thanks
     
  2. HortLine

    HortLine Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    You don't mention your light conditions, but since you already have a lot of moss, you probably have shady, acidic conditions. You could just let the moss gradually take over by not liming or fertilizing it, but moss is much less durable than grass and therefore not really appropriate as a play area for children. (If it gets too much traffic it will break down to mud). Removing moss from the wild is not recommended and it's rarely successful when transplanted to the garden. Commercial sources include "Scotch moss" (Sagina subulata 'Aurea') and "Irish moss" (Arenaria verna) -- both require full sun to do well.
    Lawn alternatives such as chamomile or thyme or clover lawns attract bees and therefore are also probably not appropriate for children. But here's a suggestion: there is an "orchard forage mix" available from Dawson Seed Co. in Surrey that is tough, takes shade and if kept mown (sorry!) will not attract bees.
    Some native groundcovers to try: Salal and Kinnikinnick (both rather slow to get established); for shady areas there are 2 lovely native creepers -- Twinflower (Linnea borealis) and Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), and there are several native ferns for moist shade -- sword fern, deer fern, and the lovely oak fern. There are many other possibilites. Some books to consult: Carole Rubin, How to get your Lawn off Grass; Arthur Kruckeberg Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest; April Pettinger, Native Plants in the Coastal Garden.
    Good Luck!
     
  3. Ray

    Ray Member

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    Hi,

    Thanks for the reply and the great plant suggestions.

    The back yard gets a lot of sun, but is not that well drained. This year I think all we will do is stop fertilizing and liming and that should take its toll on the grass. As it is a play area I suppose the robustness of the ground cover is a priority. I will investigate alternatives over the winter. Looks like I will be mowing all summer.
     
  4. Meghann Douglas

    Meghann Douglas Member

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    Location:
    Fredericton, NB
    I noticed this response with interest. I live on the east coast, a hardy zone 3-4 location and am looking for a ground cover .... non-grass and non-mowing option ... instead of lawn. The location is full sun. We haven't hauled in the dirt yet. Creeping ivy has been suggested -- but it sounds dangerously like a "weed". Chamomile was also suggested but in looking at Richter's Herbs website, the varieties commonly used for groundcover also seem to require mowing... ??True/False?? Several of Richter's thyme varieties looked lovely, but most are only available in plants or plugs. Shipping costs preclude that option from an Ontario source!! Other more "budget-wise" suggestions would be most appreciated!
    Thx.
    Meghann

     
  5. JHohn

    JHohn Member

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    Location:
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    Hi! To anyone who is interested, please note that the company identified in the original HortLine response as "Dawson Seed Co. in Surrey" is now known as QUALITY SEEDS WEST. We are still located in Surrey BC, just north of the Cloverdale Fairgrounds, and we still carry the OrchardStar "orchard forage mix". Inquiries regarding this seed mixture should be directed to Mr. Bill Awmack, P.Ag at 604-574-7333 or bill@qualityseedswest.com
    Kind regards,
    Jeri
     
  6. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Beaverton, Oregon
    If you have not seen the property in summer, maybe you are not ready to make that decision yet.

    Unless you pick the Scotch moss.

    I grew up with moss in our 2 acre yard, and worked in many others. The moss is abundant by winter, and almost entirely dissapears most of the summer.

    Maybe like you, I liked the moss the best. I just enjoyed the moss while it was abundant. in fall through early spring.
     
  7. hortfreak

    hortfreak Active Member Maple Society

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    Location:
    Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
    It really is best to go through at least one complete year to see what your property has to offer and what the conditions are (sun, etc.).

    I, too, love moss. It grew naturally in my previous garden. I just let it go wherever it wanted. However, the robins learned that it lined their nests rather nicely, and soon great sheets of it would disappear at a time. I would never begrudge the robins their comfort, so I had to find ways to fill in the great bare spots that were left after their raids. Also, if the area you are talking about is a play area, the moss will not thrive. Perhaps you could make a play area with some kind of soft mulch and let the moss grow in other areas.
     
  8. biggam

    biggam Active Member

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    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Hard fescue is a grass that could be left unmowed. If you don't mind bees, you could mix in white clover (Trifolium repens) and reduce or eliminate the need to add nitrogen fertilizer. Here is an article about seed mixes for no-mow lawns.
     
  9. nstairs

    nstairs Member

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    Location:
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    Ray:

    This is something I wrote several years ago for a magazine regarding moss. I am attaching it in a word document as it is too long to type out and I don't have it in a electronic file any longer.

    Good luck and kudos to you for appreciating moss.

    Nancy
     

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  10. Don Ho

    Don Ho Active Member

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    Location:
    Edmonton, Canada
    Howdy Ray,

    Lawns and exhuberent kids go together. Moss will not stand up to the wear and tear of kids playing, nor will many other groundcover plants. Lawns that have turfgrass as the main constituent look to be unavoidable for you, if you have enough sunlight. You may need to wait until the kids are grown and out on their own before converting the lawn to something else. Ahh, but then where will the grandkids play?
     

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