4 Steps to Replace Lawn
- Start with a small area — you can expand in stages. Bring the edge of an existing garden out further, or make a new bed in your lawn. One way to visualize a new bed in your lawn is by using a garden hose to outline it. The hose will make gentle curves that should be easy to mow around and also be visually pleasing.
- Pick an assortment of 3 or 5 species. Use sedges, ferns, and woodland flowers if you have a shady spot. Warm season grasses and sun-loving perennials if you have a sunny spot. Plan on keeping everything to about the same height and you won’t need to worry about a design. Spot the plants around and let them fill in.
- Remove the grass and start planting! Be sure to remove the root system of the turf so it will not sprout back. Plant your new plants about 12″ apart and mulch well between them. The closer together you space them, the less weeding you will need to do.
- Plan on keeping an eye on things for the first couple seasons especially. Pull weeds and invasive plants, and let the plants drop seed and or spread by runner.
Keeping it Low
Here’s a selection of plants that are good ‘space fillers’ for lawn replacement. We’ve selected plants that are from 6″-18″ tall. All have pollinator/eco-system value and are easy-care.
- Carex flaccosperma, Blue Wood Sedge
- Carex laxiculmis, Glaucous woodland Sedge
- Carex leavenworthii, Lawn Sedge
- Carex pensylvanica, Pennsylvania Sedge
- Read our Blog Post on sedges
- Polystichum acrostichoides , Christmas Fern
- Dryopteris goldiana, Goldie’s Fern
- Osmunda claytoniana, Interrupted Fern
- Dryopteris marginalis, Leatherwood Fern
- Adiantum pedatum, Maidenhair Fern
- Allium cernuum – Nodding Onion. Deer resistant, dainty, adaptable.
- Aquilegia canadensis – Columbine. Part shade to sun. Drought resistant, hummingbirds.
- Dicentra eximia – Bleeding Heart. Deer resistant. Sun to Shade, long bloom period.
- Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower. Sun to Shade Butterflies, birds, cut flowers.
- Elephantopus caroliniana – Elephant’s Foot. Deer resistant, good spreader. Part Shade, drought tolerant. Endangered.
- Eupatorium coelestinum – Hardy Ageratum. Deer resistant, good spreader. Sun to part shade.
- Eurybia divaricata — White Wood Aster. Spreads well. Shade, fall nectar.
- Gentiana clausa – Bottle Gentian. Part sun to sun. Unique, purple, conversation piece.
- Heuchera americana – Alum Root. Sun to part shade. Variegated foliage, evergreen. Accent plant.
- Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’ – Autumn Bride Heuchera. Shade to part shade. Outstanding fall bloom. Late nectar for pollinators.
- Liatris species – Sun. Butterflies! Drought tolerant.
- Monarda species – Sun. Good spreaders. Butterflies. Deer resistant. Use for teas!
- Penstemon species – Sun to part shade. Spreads easily by seed. Pollinator magnet.
- Polemonium reptans – Jacob Ladder. Shade to part shade. Blue.
- Solidago shortii ‘Solar Cascade’ – Dwarf Goldenrod. Sun to part sun.
- Solidago sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’ – Dwarf Goldenrod. Sun to part sun
- Solidago bicolor – White Goldenrod. Sun to shade
- Solidago caesia – Bluestem Goldenrod Shadee, clumping.
- Symphyotrichum oblongifolium- Aromatic Aster. Compact. Butterflies!
- Talinum teretifolium – FameFlower. Endangered. Good for poor soil.
- Tiarella species – Foamflower. Sun to part sun. Drought tolerant. Spring bloom. Semi-evergreen.
- Tridens flava – Purple Top. Sun to part Sun. Easy.
- Viola species – Violets. Spread well, easy.
- Zizia auirea – Golden Alexander. Fills in well by seed. Butterflies.
Wanna Go Taller?
Try making a warm season grass area! Grasses have tremendous ecological value. Mix in a few taller perennials and you actually will have a mini-meadow. Your choices are almost endless! Read more about grasses here.