Ask a Question forum: seeking advice on best lawn alternative to replace grass

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jbq
Dec 10, 2016 1:50 PM CST
Dear Experts,

I would like to replace our patchy lawn with something that doesn't need to be watered or mowed because my husband is terribly allergic to grass, so we don't take care of it as we should. I've read a lot of articles that suggest microclover, creeping thyme or moss, but I don't know which is the best for our situation. We live in zone 6 in the Northeast, have a lot of shade from a beautiful japanese maple tree and we need something that is unlikely to trigger grass and pollen allergies. There is a lot of foot traffic from our kids and dog, which is also why we won't use any pesticides. I know, just give up and put in astroturf, right? but I really want real plants. Which kinds of alternatives would be the best for these conditions? If I combine a mix of them, where should I put each? What and when is the best way to plant them (live plants, seeds, spring, fall?) and finally, do I need to dig up and kill off all the grass first, or can we start by filling in the bald spots and try to phase out the grass over time? Any advice is welcome! Thank you!
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Dec 10, 2016 7:13 PM CST
Can you provide a photo of the area so we can better visualize? I'd like to see the sun/shade areas and get an idea of the shape of the area. Is this the front yard or both front and back?
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Dec 11, 2016 11:32 AM CST
Dog gone it @greene ! Shes up on everthing #😎😎😎. Shes smart though !!! Id try a mixture in bare spots. (Heck ! Even in grass.) See what holds up better. The thyme will probably take over everything. I dont know bout foot traffic for anything you mentioned. Butt being allergic.
I would eliminate grass first. Cause new stuff is gonna need fair amount of water and grass is gonna go NUTTS!!!!##😬.
Have you considered landscaping?
Or vegetables ?
Thats what im going to do in my front yard this spring. Now that i've elimanated my burmada grass.
I roto-tilled after i sprayed with round-up a couple times.

Let us know what works for you ?
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Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Dec 11, 2016 12:09 PM CST
Lots of Hosta's, ground covers..mazus reptant, lamium, bugleweed
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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Dec 11, 2016 12:59 PM CST
I don't know whether it would thrive in your area, but Horse Herb, (Prostrate Lawn Flower) does well in the shade and can tolerate foot traffic. It also needs less water than grass.The data base does not offer zone information for it.
Porkpal
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Dec 11, 2016 1:16 PM CST
My latest 'go-to' for easy care ground cover is Smooth Rupturewort (Herniaria glabra) It does better for me than thyme, spreads very quickly, stays low, and is evergreen. I have planted it in the expansion joints of my sidewalk (the wood long ago rotted out) and it seems to take foot traffic in stride (couldn't resist...). Also as an understory to a Japanese maple.
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Dec 11, 2016 1:48 PM CST
It will likely be hard to find something that would take heavy foot traffic from kids and dog. I looked up porkpal and Deb's suggestions and although they are interesting it seems they are probably not hardy in Zone 6. Some things to also consider are bees, because you won't want kids playing on a ground cover that is covered with bees in flowering season. Also toxicity to dogs because if the dog is anything like mine they'll be munching on what is underfoot. Another issue is the need to weed during establishment of the groundcover, crawling around pulling grass weeds out of creeping thyme is time-consuming, at least to start with .

How large is the area and how much foot traffic does it actually get? Are the kids and dog going to be playing on it or just crossing over it (in which case you could make a path through it and durability is less important)?
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Dec 11, 2016 1:49 PM CST
The reason I asked @jbq for more information - photos and such - is that I am hoping to suggest something where the husband can have less allergens and the kids and dogs can romp and run safely without tripping over trailing plants or sitting of a bee (like my brother did when he was a kid Rolling on the floor laughing ). Knowing the size, shape and layout would kick my brain into gear with ideas. Crossing Fingers!

Note: I was hitting the send key as @sooby made the post. Yep, keeping the kids/dogs/bees, etc. is an important factor.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
[Last edited by greene - Dec 11, 2016 1:51 PM (+)]
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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Dec 11, 2016 2:53 PM CST
I'm curious. Is her husband allergic to ALL types of grass? Just wondering, because when I lived in SoCal, the grass we had there would make me itch terribly if I sat on it, but I don't have that problem with the grasses that grow in this area. (Of course, I guess it could have been fleas! Hilarious! But I don't think so.)
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Dec 12, 2016 11:40 AM CST
Pictures. Please !!!
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Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Dec 12, 2016 12:09 PM CST
In my area, lily turf is used as lawn in shady areas.
While deer will graze it, it's otherwise mostly impervious to everything.
Drought, dry sand, wet clay, pretty much unstoppable.
As such, there's usually plenty to be had free....
You might start small, see what you think.... Kinda hard to get rid of it once it gets going, but.... It does bloom, with real flowers that attract bees and butterflies.. which gives it one up on turf which is wind pollinated, hence the allergies.

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