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Search Results for ' Lawn alternatives'

PAL Questions: 3 - Garden Tools: - Recommended Websites: 1

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Keywords: Moss gardening, Lawn alternatives, Ground cover plants

PAL Question:

What is the best way to encourage moss to take over and cover large surface areas in a relatively short amount of time? My goal is to replace my lawn with a moss garden.

View Answer:

Here are some links to information which may be useful to you:

Primitive Plants: Mosses, Ferns, and Allies

Moss cultivation:

Encouraging Mosses

Mad About Moss—The Simple Art of Moss Gardening

There are two books I would recommend, Moss Gardening by George Schenk (Timber Press, 1997), particularly the chapter on "Moss Carpets," and How to Get Your Lawn Off Grass by Carole Rubin (Harbour Publishing, 2002). Rubin gives directions for preparing your site, which involve digging out existing plants or--in your case--smothering the lawn with mulches of leaves (12 inches), bark (3 inches), or newspaper (10 sheets thick). Schenk offers several different methods for creating a moss garden. Briefly paraphrasing, these are:

  1. Work with nature, allowing self-sown spores of moss to take hold. (Prepare the site by weeding, raking, and perhaps rolling the surface smooth.)
  2. Encourage the moss in an existing lawn by weeding out grass. You can plant what the author calls "weed mosses" which will spread, such as Atrichum, Brachythecium, Calliergonella, Mnium, Plagiothecium, Polytrichum, and others.
  3. Instant carpet: you can moss about 75 square feet if you have access to woods from which large amounts of moss can be removed legally.
  4. Plant moss sods at spaced intervals (about one foot apart) and wait for them to grow into a solid carpet.Choose plants that match your soil and site conditions.
  5. Grow a moss carpet from crumbled fragments. This is rarely done, and only a few kinds of moss will grow this way, including Leucobryum, Racomitrium, and Dicranoweisia.

Another approach is to change the soil pH. Sulphur should be beneficial to moss and detrimental to lawn grass. The reason for this lies in the fact that moss grows best with a soil pH of 5.0-6.0, while lawns grow best with soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0 (according to The Lawn Bible by David Mellor, 2003). Added sulphur lowers the soil pH, creating a more acidic environment.

Season All Season
Date 2007-04-04
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Keywords: Moss gardening, Mosses, Lawn alternatives

PAL Question:

Could you tell me how to replace grass with moss in the shady areas of our lawn?

View Answer:

There are a number of options for replacing the grass in the shady part of your garden. Should you decide to cultivate moss, Oregon State University's page on Encouraging Mosses should be of interest.

There are two books I would recommend, Moss Gardening by George Schenk (Timber Press, 1997), particularly the chapter on "Moss Carpets," and How to Get Your Lawn Off Grass by Carole Rubin (Harbour Publishing, 2002). Rubin gives directions for preparing your site, which involve digging out existing plants or smothering the lawn with mulches of leaves (12 inches), bark (3 inches), or newspaper (10 sheets thick). Schenk offers several different methods for creating a moss garden. Briefly paraphrasing, these are:

  1. Work with nature, allowing self-sown spores of moss to take hold. (Prepare the site by weeding, raking, and perhaps rolling the surface smooth).
  2. Encourage the moss in an existing lawn by weeding out grass. You can plant what the author calls "weed mosses" which will spread, such as Atrichum, Brachythecium, Calliergonella, Mnium, Plagiothecium, Polytrichum, and others.
  3. Instant carpet: you can moss about 75 square feet if you have access to woods from which large amounts of moss can be removed legally.
  4. Plant moss sods at spaced intervals (about one foot apart) and wait for them to grow into a solid carpet.Choose plants that match your soil and site conditions.
  5. Grow a moss carpet from crumbled fragments. This is rarely done, and only a few kinds of moss will grow this way, including Leucobryum, Racomitrium, and Dicranoweisia.

In her book Big Ideas for Northwest Small Gardens, Marty Wingate recommends Mazus reptans. It is semi-evergreen to evergreen with tiny blue flowers from late spring through summer. It takes full sun to part shade and is delicate looking, but takes foot traffic. It requires some fertilizer to stay perky. Another source of ideas is the website www.stepables.com. Click on "plant info," then "plant search."

Another ground cover that can take foot traffic is Leptinella gruveri "Miniature Brass Buttons."

Season All Season
Date 2007-06-08
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Keywords: synthetic turf, Lawn alternatives

PAL Question:

I have a client who is interested in replacing a lawn with artificial turf, but I'd like to know of examples out there, and any other thoughts you might have on the subject.

View Answer:

I am guessing your client is interested in a low-maintenance ground cover that gives the appearance of lush lawn without the attending needs to water, weed, fertilize, and so on. On the surface, this makes artificial turf sound like a good alternative. If your client wants a place to sit and relax in the garden, a chair will be required, as plastic is not a welcoming seat. There are other considerations as well.

There are examples of artificial turf throughout City of Seattle Parks and Recreation, and Seattle Public Schools. There are a number of fields which use artificial turf, also referred to as synthetic turf. You could contact people at these departments for their thoughts on the subject. Here is the contact person for Woodland Park field: Ted Holden at 206-684-7021 and ted.holden@seattle.gov
Seattle Public School has a grounds maintenance number, (206)252-0645.

I have some personal observations about the artificial turf installed at Magnuson Park and at Eckstein Middle School. The field at Magnuson is in the middle of a wetland. This turf area sheds tiny crumbs of plastic or rubber which are tracked indoors on shoes (and paws!). In the rainy season, the particles wash over the pathways and into the drainage areas of the remaining wetland. This and the aforementioned school field which was replaced by artificial turf used to have some value as a habitat for birds and other creatures but both are now ecological dead zones. When we have hot weather, these expanses of synthetic turf emit an odor like singed rubber.

Below are various links about the downside of artificial turf:

A related subject is the use of recycled rubber tires (also used in synthetic turf infill) as mulch in gardens. Washington State University Extension horticulturist Linda Chalker-Scott has written about the myth of this recycled product's supposed ecological benefits.

Perhaps your client might consider more environmentally friendly, low maintenance ground covers. You can search the Miller Library's database for ideas about ground cover plants and lawn alternatives.

Season All Season
Date 2010-01-30
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June 24 2013 12:55:25