Lawn alternative for damp shady patch

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by cindys, May 3, 2007.

  1. cindys

    cindys Active Member

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    When we moved into our house (Vancouver-Kerrisdale), years ago, we had lots of lawn. Over the years I have gradually removed almost all of the lawn in the backyard. Only a small patch remains. That patch was seeded three years ago with rye grass. Now it is mostly moss and weeds. The area is poorly drained despite having had some work done to amend that before we seeded. It is also shaded for lots of the day by several large trees to the south. Lastly, it is our dog's loo.

    I don't want more patio or garden area to maintain. I want something lawn-like. I have read about camomile, but don't think that would work due to the damp. I have read about something called Eco-lawn but that doesn't talk about damp soils. Any suggestions would be welcomed.
     
  2. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Do you want to be walking on it? There are ground covers that would work to cover the area but not necessarily walk-able ones - Asarum, or Oxalis, for example.

    What about just pulling the weeds and letting the moss take over?
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    If the dog is peeing all over that spot nothing will endure that for long. How about some crushed rock or natural stone pavers?
     
  4. cindys

    cindys Active Member

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    Ron is probably correct...the dog is not helping here. However, she really doesn't have another place to "go". I really don't want more hard landscaping in this backyard...we already have quite a bit...a large bluestone patio, a gravel area with with raised beds that is my herb garden, walk-ways, and another flagstone patio in the shade garden. We need something grass-like. Karin - I have a pretty big yard and need something that is easy care (and not too expensive). I had thought of letting it all go to moss...that is an attractive proposition.

    I contacted the Eco-lawn folk (Wildflower Farm) and asked about using this product in a damp spot. They replied, " Eco-Lawn has no problem with shade and as long as the area is not under water, it will do fine with the moist conditions.
    As for the moss and weeds, please remove this first before sowing new seeds."

    If anyone else has experience with Eco-lawn, I would love to hear about it.
     
  5. horace

    horace Member

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    I had been quite intrigued by the "eco-lawn" idea and two years ago decided to use a commercially available seed mix (by DF Marks, if I recall correctly) to seed a new lawn in the back yard. While I still find the concept compelling, I haven't been that satisfied with the results.

    Part of the problem is that I seeded too densely. Ideally, you'll want to distribute the seed rather sparsely (the package should offer more specific guidelines). This allows the perennials in the mix (yarrow, english daisy, clover etc) to establish themselves before being crowded out by the more aggressive ryegrass. Keep in mind, though, that the grass will eventually take over the entire lawn, perhaps with spots of clover here and there.

    So if you're going for a sort of "meadow lawn" look, that may last only a few years before ending up like a more-or-less conventional lawn. But you may find that such a lawn requires less maintenance than other varieties.

    By itself, though, I don't think eco-turf will solve the problems you have in that part of the garden. If you do decide to reseed with an eco-turf mix or other type of grass, you'll need to take out the existing grass and weeds, then till in compost and--to treat the moss--lime. By reducing the acidity in the soil, you'll keep the moss out. Adding more compost (or perhaps even well-composted bark) than you did before might help improve the drainage--it can take a lot to make a difference, particularly in clay soil.

    One (easy) approach might be to cover the existing lawn with newspaper/cardboard, followed by a nice thick layer (say 6") of composted bark. Next year, after the grass and weeds have composted, along with the newspaper/cardboard, just till the whole mess under (with some added lime) and start over.
     
  6. cindys

    cindys Active Member

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    Thanks Horace - I appreciate the information from someone who has experimented. Yesterday I got my Garden Wise magazine (summer 2007) and, in it, was a question about a lawn situation nearly identical to mine (damp, dogs, shade). The person who answered recommended Dutch white clover. I spent some time today on the internet looking into this option...in fact someone else who lives in Burnaby posted a photo in another thread on this forum: http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showpost.php?p=77072&postcount=30
    I think it looks terrific!
     
  7. cindys

    cindys Active Member

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    Re: Lawn alternative for damp shady patch - update

    Nearly a year ago, I asked about lawn alternatives for damp shade in Vancouver BC. After some useful advice, I decided to go with the Dutch White Clover option. I had all the existing grass and weeds removed, got some new top soil and planted the seeds (which I got locally from West Coast Seeds). I planted a bit late in the year, but, despite the winter inundations, about half of the seeds germinated and grew. I reseeded again in March. A couple of weeks ago, it had the first mowing. The dog now uses it as her personal doggy loo. Unlike regular lawns, the place she went doesn't turn brown and then regrow more vigourously...it stays nice and green. Weeds don't seem to be interested in this area any more. This little patch of lawn doesn't get much foot traffic, but, when the little ones from next door ran around on it recently, it bounced back beautifully. All in all, I am delighted with it! Here is a photo shot today.

    Cindy
     

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  8. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    2 photos of my lovely lawn. What's not to like & it's easy to mow?

    I have been discouraging the undesirable species (grasses) for years. These pics are in a fairly sunny spot. In the shade the buttercups & Ajuga reptans etc. are taking over. The underlayer is moss, which dominates in the fall through May.

    I definitely think you are on the right track & nice to see someone else not obsessed by gramineaecious (?) monocultures.

    gb
     

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  9. Judy G

    Judy G Member

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    I planted "eco-turf" in a similar situation 11 years ago.(Western Washington- Puget Sound) It has done well, and especially, in the shade, the english daisies have flourished. In the shade areas the daisies and moss are prevalent. I also seem to have Carex "frosty curls" self seeding in area of damp shade and it might make a lovely ground cover en mass and of course unmowed. Of course the dog might get lost...
     
  10. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    What's the matter with moss, though? Once it gets established it is durable and surprisingly drought-resistant. It's also nice to walk on, and looks great in those awkward times of year when hardly anything else is green.
     
  11. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    Great stuff moss. However... the Stellars Jays, Racoons & Crows heave it around in handfuls to get at the bugs below. A leavening of grass or other plants with actual roots anchors the stuff down & thwarts the varmints. Of course, this leaves the bugs for the moles below!


    gb
     

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