Pasture/Lawn for 1.5 acres?

Discussion in 'Groundcovers' started by lburrell, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. lburrell

    lburrell Member

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    Location:
    Anmore, British Columbia, Canada
    Hi there! I'm so excited that there's a "groundcover" forum!! Who knew??

    My husband and I just came into possession of 1.31 acres on Salt Spring Island. The land has good sun exposure, but of course we are on the "Wet Coast".

    Right now it looks to have some kind of tall grass on it (hard to tell in winter), but we are going to have the land cleared of the broom that's invaded it, ploughed, and seeded. I would like to make a good choice of cover.

    If AT ALL POSSIBLE, we would prefer not to mow much if at all. We don't have forage animals, but our neighbours do, so perhaps a mix of low-growing forage crops (kentucky bluegrass? perennial rye? alfalfa? timothy?). We would rather be enriching the soil than depleting it (so clover? vetch?). We've also heard there is some controversy around tall fescue as being invasive and perhaps causing laminitis in mares, but I don't know much about that.

    We'll be walking the land but there won't be high traffic.

    Thank you so much! Look forward to your suggestions!
     
  2. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Victoria [Saanich, actually, northeast of Victoria
    What an interesting problem! Yes, I am pleased about there being a Groundcover forum and I think I may have been the one to suggest it last summer. I have such a small space that I can obsess about miniscule groundcovers with subtly-different shades of green and types of foliage, whether pale or dark in tone, versus- or combined with larger ones with more "gravitas" like small spreading conifers, but all that land to cover! I think most people contributing to this forum think of Groundcovers as "ornamental" groundcovers, not so much functional ones other than the function of being a lawn replacement or a plant growing in between stepping-stones, etc.... or to cover a bank which isn't suitable for grass, etc.

    * I guess it depends what you might want to do with it in the future. Are you going to keep it as open land or maybe develop partially, anyway, an orchard of fruit trees, or build something on it? What about deer and their depredations?

    * You could have a wonderful experimental patch for various plants you are interested in, and could transplant them around to areas you might want to use them in, either there or somewhere else. Do you have deer to contend with? That would affect your decisions on what to plant.

    * Depending on the vista and the lay of the land, you might create a wonderful park there with various groundcovers and shrubs and trees, enhancing the value of your property immensely.

    * If you want to improve the fertility of the soil, that's a wonderful idea and that is something I certainly don't know anything about other than planting pea or bean-type crops or clover, etc., and plowing it in... I think it needs to be turned in... and that is all just vague half-knowledge on my part. That's a lot of work, and implies a planting program of some sort.

    I am not being much help, but it will be interesting to see what other people contribute on this one! Christmas may be intervening on their attention span, so you might not hear from them until after the New Year...
     
  3. lburrell

    lburrell Member

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    Anmore, British Columbia, Canada
    Thank you, Janet!

    I think the land would not be developed, other than putting a structure on it--at least in the short term. I am hoping we would get to know our neighbours enough that they might pasture their forage animals (I see goats and horses in neighbouring properties) on the land from time to time.

    There are MANY deer, but the lot is deer-fenced.

    Thanks for your suggestions.
     
  4. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Maryland USA zone 7
    Hi Lburrell,

    Congratulations on your new purchase! In reading your post the first thing that came to mind was a meadow of native plants, orbs and flowers. Maybe these resources would be helpful.
    http://www.hctf.ca/nature.htm
    http://www.wildaboutgardening.org/en/attracting/index.htm
    http://www.cwf-fcf.org/pages/home/default_e.asp
    http://www.uoguelph.ca/GTI/linkfram.htm?http://www.uoguelph.ca/GTI/links/relidx2
    http://www.prairiefrontier.com/pages/prairegrs.htm
    http://www.prairiefrontier.com/pages/native.html

    Click on 'How To' here.
    http://www.prairienursery.com/

    You might want to use their 'Eco Lawn' grass seed, either as a guide or to plant. I wouldn't recommend ordering plants from them as their rating for live plants is very poor.
    http://www.wildflowerfarm.com/
    http://davesgarden.com/products/gwd/

    Janet mentioned cover crops. This might be helpful with that.
    http://www.gardenwiseonline.ca/gw/s...lant-green-manure-boost-soil-and-add-nitrogen

    Newt
     
  5. lburrell

    lburrell Member

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    Newt, that is terrific. THANK you!
     
  6. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Lburrell, you are so very welcome! I hope some of that is helpful.

    Newt
     
  7. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Denman Island,BC
    There is enough farming on Saltspring to expect a few farmers that would be willing and equipped to do the job properly and also to give you some locally flavored advice. The ag seed distributors like Terralink are usually very happy to suggest seed blends and local suppliers.

    One thing to keep in mind is that the broom removal is a multi year project requiring repeated pulling or mowing (not like a lawn, but once a year at bloom) to defeat the re-sprouts and germination from the seed bank in the soil. One or two acres is quite manageable for pulling if you have a strong back, even enjoyable if the soil is moist. If the local ag office is still pushing the Roundup (glyphosate) for broom, don't bother even if you are OK with using it. I tried a test strip (20 feet wide) in a broom invaded field and you couldn't tell where the strip was after a year. Plowing or rototilling and reseeding is a good start, but do it at a time when the seeding will be able to germinate and take over, otherwise the thistles will have a party at your expense.

    Ralph
     
  8. Laughing Dog

    Laughing Dog Active Member

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    Location:
    Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island

    With this I agree whole heartedly, we had a five acre hobby farm on Quadra Island and it was a "forever" battle with the broom and scotch thistle. Problem always tends to be the lot next door, or ever several lots down, that do not bother to pull their broom or thistle - those blasted seed are tough and travel well (and far)...

    Goats are a great benefit, and one of the few grazing animals that will eat young shoots of thistle! That is too small an area for a full size horse to properly graze, but a pony or donkey would be a good companion for goats. Sheep tend to be rather finicky and not much benefit in ridding you of any new shoots ... but they are great at soil conditioning!

    We also found an evergreen perimeter hedge made a good protective barrier against transient seeding from neighboring properties (Laural or a row of Rhodos look great as well - the deer or goats will destroy cedar hedging). As far as controlling the broom, pulling it out annually is about the best result you will get... we ended up mowing them down annually after the larger roots were all pulled. Burning with a portable torch sterilizes the soil too much and chemicals are never a good choice.

    We sold our place three years ago and now reside in Qualicum Beach. A visit last year revealed that the broom had come back with a vengeance, what was once a clear pasture is now a disheveled meadow laden with invasive plants such as broom and thistle ... best of luck with your property, but be sure to truly be diligent and keep up with eliminating new shoots of broom and thistle.
     

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