Get Away by Staying Home - Turn your lawn into a country getaway

Published on Wed, 06/28/2017 - 4:17pm

A freshly mowed, emerald green lawn is a magnificent sight to behold. A yard filled with perfect turfgrass has been a source of pride for millions of American homeowners and homesteaders for decades, because nothing says “Home Sweet Home” like a great lawn.

But there’s a downside to a massive green lawn: sometimes it’s a lot of work to keep it looking great. A “perfect” lawn requires mowing and fertilizing. In some climates, a lawn also needs supplemental irrigation. And there are always weeds trying to move into a pristine patch of grass.

Fortunately, there are new turfgrass varieties that take some of the hassle out of maintaining a great yard. Also, also lawn alternatives—such as wildflower meadows and flowering groundcovers—can help transform your property into a beautiful country getaway.

Here are a few ideas that can help you save time and labor on lawn maintenance and give your yard a colorful makeover.

Too much lawn? Try wildflowers

Some properties have more lawn space than they need. If mowing the lawn takes an entire day, then converting some turfgrass to a low-maintenance wildflower meadow is a solution.

Selecting the right seeds is one of the keys to planting a successful wildflower garden. Planting a selection of seeds specifically chosen for your growing conditions can make the difference between a thriving wildflower garden and disappointment.

AmericanMeadows.com has created six different regional seed mixes to increase both seed germination and plant survival. For example, the Midwest Wildflower Seed Mix contains 28 different wildflower species, all of which thrive in the growing conditions of the Midwestern states. Different wildflower seed mixes are also available for full sun, partial shade, and dry growing conditions. Other seed mixes include species that flower in the fall, and seeds for specific flower types (such as sunflowers, zinnias and cosmos).

To get the best results (whether you’re sowing a 10-square-foot flower bed or a 5-acre meadow), prepare the ground before planting seeds. Clear away most competing plants and strip away existing sod, then turn over the soil with a rototiller or a shovel so the seeds can penetrate the soil surface.

“One of the best times to sow wildflower seeds in colder climates is after the first frost, but before the ground freezes for the winter,” said Mike Lizotte of American Meadows. “That’s when most wildflowers naturally drop their seeds.”

Flowering groundcovers add color

Turfgrass isn’t the only groundcover. There are plenty of flowering groundcovers that can be used in garden beds and adjacent to lawns to add a rainbow of colors to the landscape.

“Flowering groundcovers are an indispensable element of any well-designed garden,” said David Salman, chief horticulturist of HighCountryGardens.com. “Low-growing perennials may be short in stature, but when placed in the right spots they fill in the gaps in a yard and garden with colorful blooms and attractive foliage.”

Creeping Gold Buttons (Cotula ‘Tiffindell Gold’) is a groundcover that can be used in flower beds or as a lawn substitute. A vigorous grower with deep, water-seeking roots, ‘Tiffindell Gold’ has soft, one-inch-high emerald green foliage and an impressive display of golden button-like flowers that brighten a yard beginning in late spring. It is perfect for carpeting large patches in perennial beds or as a grass replacement in low traffic areas. Its evergreen foliage even looks good in the winter.

Creeping Hummingbird Trumpet (Zauschneria garrettii Orange Carpet®) is a vigorous perennial groundcover that blooms in mid- to late summer with bright orange trumpet-shaped flowers that last for weeks. Spreading with underground stems, this beautiful plant is perfect for slopes and cascading over the edges of raised beds. Regular watering when in bloom keeps the flowers coming. Plant Creeping Hummingbird Mint in well-drained, compost-enriched soil. ‘Orange Carpet’ prefers some afternoon shade, especially in warmer climates at lower elevations.

Turkish Speedwell (Veronica liwanensis) is well-suited for filling the spaces between flagstone and pavers. This blue-flowered groundcover is native to the mountains

of Turkey, where it has to be tough in order to survive. The stems of evergreen foliage root as they spread across the soil and cover themselves with bright blue flowers in late spring. When not in bloom, the round, glossy evergreen leaves creep across the ground, creating a thick green carpet. All of these groundcovers are available at HighCountryGardens.com.

Plant a carpet of roses

Any self-respecting country getaway is going to have some roses in the gardens. Flower Carpet Roses from Anthony Tesselaar Plants are tough enough to handle drought conditions and summer heat, and their spreading growth habit makes them a great flowering groundcover in garden beds and next to lawns. Flower Carpet roses have been bred to thrive in conditions that can challenge other roses, and their colorful blooms cover the glossy green foliage for virtually the entire growing season.

The two-tiered Flower Carpet rose root system sends out deep roots to capture lower-level soil moisture and shallow roots to capture surface moisture. Their disease and pest resistance makes them virtually bullet-proof. There’s no need for special pruning, heavy fertilizers, or chemicals to make these eco-friendly roses perform at their best. The impressive color palette of Flower Carpet roses includes Scarlet, Pink Supreme, Amber and seven additional colors. Available at garden centers, more information can be found at Tesselaar.com.

This grass is Dog Tuff”

A dog may be man’s best friend, but the family dog is no friend to the perfect lawn. In lawn areas where dogs frolic and play, the trademarked Dog Tuff Grass can be a homeowner’s dream come true because it is a dense, deep rooted, low-growing turf grass that’s tough enough to hold up to the wear and tear of dogs and kids. Not only is Dog Tuff Grass (Cynodon hybrida) ideal for kids’ play, but it stands up to dog urine with little or no damage.

This waterwise grass was discovered growing as a dense, bright-green area of grass on an isolated ranch in South Africa. It was brought to the U.S. and is just now available to the public. This grass is considered sterile because it doesn’t spread by seed. Instead, it spreads by stolons (runners) that root into the ground wherever they can take hold, filling in to a thick, luxurious lawn. Dog Tuff Grass was awarded a Green Thumb Award from the Direct Gardening Association. A flat of Dog Tuff grass plugs costs $59.95 from HighCountryGardens.com and covers 70 square feet when planted one plug to every square foot.

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About the author

Randall D. Schultz is the content editor for HomeGardenandHomestead.com, a website filled with cool stuff for homeowners and homesteaders. Randy is a Master Gardener in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. For daily home and garden tips and ideas, “Like” the Home, Garden and Homestead pages on Facebook and Pinterest.