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Making over a shady lawn

Alan Foster

Joined: Apr 11, 2012
Posts: 26
Location: St. Pete,FL
Have a small front yard that is mainly bahia and weeds. There is a large oak tree in it that I am keeping for shade. Yard faces west, kind of sandy soil but has had years of leaves didintegrating into it along with the clippings from mowing. Want to do it over into something more useful and sustainable than water wasting grass but research says too hot here for clover as usually suggested. Zone 9 with very little rain so far this year but usually heavy when it comes. Any help is appreciated.
Alan Foster

Joined: Apr 11, 2012
Posts: 26
Location: St. Pete,FL
In addition, the back yard is in worse shape due to the dogs. Mostly sand and weeds. Looking to build it back up to a more useful soil, but without chemicals and no, getting rid of the dogs is not an option. Need something that can stand up to some traffic, and the heat.
Alan Foster

Joined: Apr 11, 2012
Posts: 26
Location: St. Pete,FL
Ok, so I will add my 2 cents worth on this topic. Talked to a couple og nursuries today that have been around forever. Both recommended a low growing jasmine as the best replacement for the grass. Other ideas tossed around for this area were lantana, perennial peanut, beach sunflower and purslane. The consensus was jasmine would work the best but that all old grass would need to be removed first. They obviously could not get their heads around the idea of an organic or natural approach to gardening. I said I did not want to use any chemicals but wanted a natural and/or native garden. Both told me to go with jasmine because if weeds pop up, use round up, it's safe to do so. So at this point still up in the air but wanted to update all the anxious fans waiting to hear. Thanks for listening and as always, feel free to leave comments, suggestions or even donations in the pail.
Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
i'm not really familiar with your climate or your growing situation as I have wet clay here..but I would suggest that you maybe google plants for sandy soil, or something like that. There are a lot of ground covers that I know will do well on sandy soil, but why just turn it over to ground cover if you could grow food on it is what I THINK.

I would make a list of what you eat that will grow in your climate, zone, etc..and see what ones will grow on your type of soil, or your soil ammended with something..I think I'd first clear a circle and ammend that with the upside down sod and any leaves and grass clippings etc..and in each circle you clear plant a fruit or nut tree..throw all your household scraps into small holes around the tree mixed with some of the soil from the holes and then start planting some dynamic accumulators, insectaries, nitrogen fixers, etc around the fruit tree perimeter..(maybe some beans or peas, a comfrey, some wildflowers, etc..

Do this in small amounts around as many fruit trees as you can buy and put in, keep it small for a couple of years until the trees get big enough to drop some leaves..then expand..eventually bringing these circles together, leaving only "lawn" or ground cover or chips or something in the paths between each of the growing circles..try to not make the circles each much larger than 8 to 10 feet across unless you are putting in full size standard trees, then you might need to add stepping stones so that you can walk into the circles without compacting your soil.

Eventually you'll have a lovely food forest garden in your yard, and being west facing it is perfect, esp if you are in a frost area.

May I suggest reading Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway


Bloom where you are planted.
I agree. Here's the link: food forest dvd
subject: Making over a shady lawn
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