The Q&A Archives: Lawn alternatives

Question: Help please! I just moved to a house in a marsh area in Mainse; i live in a corner lot that becomes a lake during the raining season and when the snow melts; does not get a lot of sun; and has some traffic (kids). Due to this conditions i have no grass to speak off; I do have moss; hills and hollows; lots of pine trees and barren areas. What can i do to start making my lawn look good without spending too much money and having to break my back? I thought about ground cover that would do well in this type of conditions and will not need much maintenance.

Answer: Unfortunately, based on your description it does not sound like a lawn grass would grow well for you. Lawn grasses need ample sun, do not compete well with tree roots, do best in an evenly moist yet well drained soil, and do not tolerate heavy traffic when wet. As you suggested, a ground cover might be a solution for you. You might consider lily of the valley or hostas or ferns in the more deeply shaded areas for instance. Another option might be to encourage the moss and work with native plants to create a woodland type of landscape. You could also set aside an area for the kids to play and cover that with a mulch or gravel rather than try to grow grass. And under the pines, a natural mulch of pine needles can be attractive. Another thing to consider is working to improve the drainage so there is no flooding, for that you would need to work with a trained professional such as a landscape architect who can consult on site about the grading and drainage issues. Your local county extension may also have some suggestions. I hope this gives you some ideas.

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