The Garden Designers Roundtable invited the Lawn Reform Coalition to be their guest blogger(s) this month, combining forces to publish 18 articles about Lawn Replacement on the same day, and linking to each other. Great idea, designers! Scroll down for the links to those 17 other blog posts, including one by me on GardenRant. There I report on the disaster I made of my back-yard lawn replacement project – now bare earth fast eroding down the hillside.
I loved the colorful and tidy little mosaic of low groundcovers here in my front yard, all criss-crossed by brick pavers that repeat the brick in the sidewalk and porch floor. I loved it all, that is, until the Thymes started dying off, and the Creeping Cinquefoil overtook the Creeping Jenny – a story of plant failures I chronicled here. (Details about the thymes and other plants from Stepables that I tested in this garden are listed here.)
The goal was and is to find plants that stay low, are evergreen (more or less) and require nothing at all – no watering, no feeding, obviously no mowing, and as little weeding as possible. Also, they have to behave well with each other, not overtake their neighbors. Keeping them all short helps – 3″ and shorter – and also avoiding plants that climb on top of each other, like the cinquefoil did.
So I got rid of the bullying Cinquefoil, and seeded some Alyssym over the remaining Creeping Jenny, which I’m keeping an eye on, hoping it thrives on the shadier side of this little plot. I removed all the (dying or at least not thriving) thyme from the sunnier side and planted 8 new creeping Sedums that I’m trying out for general vigor, rate of spread – important in a groundcover unless you have a large enough budget to accomplish instant coverage – and appearance throughout the year. My tentative conclusion is that creeping Sedums could be a beautiful and nearly maintenance-free alternative to lawns on sunny spots – assuming good drainage for these dry-loving plants. They sure do all that on green roofs. They tolerate little to no foot traffic, of course. Thus the criss-crossing pavers. And no tag football or kids running through sprinklers. Thanks to Sandy McDougall and Ed Snodgrass for all the plants!
Above, from left: S. spurium possibly ‘Dragon’s Blood‘ or ‘Fuldaglut‘ that was a passalong from a neighbor. Next is a patch of S. reflexum ‘Blue Spruce,’ which is beautiful but grows VERY slowly; and above it, the much more vigorous S. rupestre ‘Angelina’. Far right: another chartreuse Sedum - S. makinoi ‘Limelight,’ which has been a slow-grower for me. In the foreground, lots of Alyssum.
Closer looks at (in foreground) S. spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’ or ‘Fuldaglot”. I’ll be getting rid of this because – sorry – its coloring is too similar to soil. It has very little impact here, and doesn’t fill in thick enough to prevent weeds, anyway. Above it is the wonderful ‘Angelina’, which everyone seems to love – for good reason. Just don’t step on it – it’s more breakable than most Sedums.
Above foreground, what’s left of the Creeping Jenny, with Alyssum in bloom.
Bottom left: S. makinoi ‘Limelight’ - gorgeous but slow-growing. Top left: S. floriferum ‘Weihnstephaner Gold,’ which really does have gold blooms and is a moderate spreader. On the right is an Ice Plant doing a bit of reblooming in August. I love Ice Plant but it hasn’t spread much in its first year and it looks pretty bad in the winter.
Above left, some of the S. takesimemese that Ed Snodgrass gave me a big ‘ole flat of, which quickly proved to be the most vigorous Sedum I’ve ever green. Great gold flowers, seen here having having turned brown by August but still looking fine by me. I’ll be using LOTS of this Sedum. On the right is S. album ‘Coral Carpet’ (I think), which is spreading awfully slowly.
It’s funny how these two Sedums look exactly alike except for the color, but are actually two different species. Plus, they perform so differently. Left: S. reflexum ‘Blue Spruce’; right: S. rupestre ‘Angelina’.
I’ve compiled info about all the Sedums I’m growing here on my website – that link includes Ed Snodgrass’s suggestions for covering ground in a variety of situations. He’s the Green Roof Plants guy right here in Maryland, so he trials plants in the same climate as me. Also on my website are links to blog stories about my lawn replacement journey, front yard and back.
Now check out posts about lawn replacement from these Lawn Reform Coalition members:
- Evelyn Hadden in Saint Paul, MN
- Saxon Holt in Novato, CA
- Ginny Stibolt in Green Cove Springs, FL
- Susan Morrison in East Bay, CA
- Shirley Bovshow in Los Angeles, CA
- Susan Harris in Takoma Park, MD – yes, it’s me again on GardenRant in a post about my back yard lawn replacement project, titled “From lawn to Sedum, clover, bare soil and erosion!”
And these members of the Garden Designers Roundtable:
- Scott Hokunson in Granby, CT
- Rochelle Greayer in Boston, MA
- Rebecca Sweet in Los Altos, CA
- Pam Penick in Austin, TX
- Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber in Bristol, UK
- Laura Liven Good Schaub in San Jose, CA
- Jocelyn Chilvers in Denver, CO
- Ivette Soler in Los Angeles, CA
- Genevieve Schmidt in Arcata, CA
- Douglas Owens-Pike in Minneapolis, MN
- Debbie Roberts in Stamford, CT