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Walkable meadow lawns

 
gardener
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I have a very skinny patch of grass in the back that I use to walk barefoot on.  Earthing, or grounding, is just walking barefoot on the ground and it has been studied to have substantial health benefits.  I have moved many plants from my raised beds to that lawn area, because they are easy to grow and many of them are considered "weeds".  I have put in yarrow, dandelion, false dandelion, sow thistle, and clover into that area. They are comfortable to walk on and useful as vegetables, for medicine, or for the ecology.  Can you think of other common plants that could be added to a walkable lawn meadow that have useful functions?

Thanks,
John S
PDX OR
 
gardener
Posts: 558
Location: Central Texas
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I like walking on lemon balm. It can tolerate the foot traffic and sure smells nice when the oil is released. (plus it's supposedly a mosquito repellent). Chocolate mint is another, but it can be a bit aggressive if given room to run. I grow purslane & portulaca "moss rose"in my garden paths. They typically stay low to the ground and I use the ornamental cultivars, which produce lovely flowers. I love it in the paths because it's soft, yet tough enough to handle me walking all over it. As long as they're in contact with the soil, any pieces that break off just put out new roots and keep growing. :)
 
Posts: 91
Location: King William, VA
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John Suavecito wrote:I have a very skinny patch of grass in the back that I use to walk barefoot on.  Earthing, or grounding, is just walking barefoot on the ground and it has been studied to have substantial health benefits.  I have moved many plants from my raised beds to that lawn area, because they are easy to grow and many of them are considered "weeds".  I have put in yarrow, dandelion, false dandelion, sow thistle, and clover into that area. They are comfortable to walk on and useful as vegetables, for medicine, or for the ecology.  Can you think of other common plants that could be added to a walkable lawn meadow that have useful functions?

Thanks,
John S
PDX OR



I have seen people plant creeping thyme in between stone "steppers".  How can you go wrong with an edible herb that smells good!
 
pollinator
Posts: 155
Location: Wichita, Kansas, United States
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I like white clover.  Being a nitrogen fixer it's good for the other plants in the yard.
Also, it doesn't grow very tall and bees like the blossoms.
I've encouraged it when I've had it in my hard.  I haven't actually planted it.
A quick web search gave several sources to buy the seed.
 
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I love creeping jenny as a ground cover.  Supposed to be good for wounds, but it can also be invasive.  Not a problem where I am letting it run.
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Dutch White Clover has worked really well for me in not so ideal conditions of heavy clay. It's very easy to direct sow in fall and spring. I prefer walking on clover over grass but that is just me. Dutch White Clover also fixes nitrogen and is a perennial ground cover so you really only need to seed it every few years if at all. I like to sprinkle in low growing wildflower mixes to add some additional diversity. I am going to try Sheep Fescue grass to add a grass into the mix next year.
 
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Location: South Texas
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We have some mock strawberry in our yard. It’s nice to walk on and the leaves and flowers are edible (though bland). Wild violets too (I use those medicinally.) And I third the white clover. Love that stuff.
If you’re in a warmer climate, maybe sweet potato vines or Malabar spinach? The malabar might get crushed or bruised, but it’s very aggressive at my house.
 
Phil Swindler
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Location: Wichita, Kansas, United States
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Kc Simmons wrote:

I grow purslane & portulaca "moss rose"in my garden paths. They typically stay low to the ground and I use the ornamental cultivars, which produce lovely flowers. I love it in the paths because it's soft, yet tough enough to handle me walking all over it. As long as they're in contact with the soil, any pieces that break off just put out new roots and keep growing. :)



Do you mean the edible purslane?
 
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Is this type of path something that you would 'mow' or cut back to keep short or keep the tall-ies out of the path?  I'm also wondering about how to best utilize the edges of this walkway? I guess nature would probably do that on her own!
 
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We maintain around 10 acres in North Central Florida.  It currently is mostly grass on sand.  We would really love to transition to a meadow and in fact have made several attempts.  However the wildflowers we plant never seem to take off and it quickly turns to weeds.  Bidens are the predominant flower and the spread everywhere.   There is lots of Dewberry and smilax that quickly infiltrate and try to take over any time we back off from mowing. When left to grow wild, it not only looks unseemly, but it also is next to impossible to walk through.  
In addition, there is a noticeable increase in mosquito and tick population.   We would love to see a lot more beautiful meadow, but that is simply not what happens.
 
Posts: 102
Location: New Mexico USA zone 6
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I wish I could have a walkable meadow here in western NM but what gets walked on tends to die.  

In fact, one way I keep certain weeds down is to walk on them specifically to stunt or kill them.  Tansy mustard [Descurainia sophia] (a.k.a. flixweed, khaksheer) is one of them -- though walking on them only works when the plant is small.  It's a non-native invasive species, toxic to livestock if eaten in quantity.  It loves disturbed soil so it grows particularly aggressively around my house and garden areas.   While it's very young it does look pretty -- a rare lush green in the arid summer before monsoon rains come in.  When it matures though, it's prickly and when it dries out,  it is scratchy,the broken bits get everywhere, and worst of all the prickly bits get in your skin and are practically impossible to get out.  Unfortunately tansy mustard puts out lots and lots of seeds, so it's an uphill struggle to get rid of it. The seeds are considered medicinal so I suppose I could figure out a way to harvest them.  

If anybody has a successful high-altitude semi-desert meadow lawn they can walk on without getting stickers in their bare feet I'd sure love to know what plants to use.

The plants in the foreground of the photo are the tansy mustard.  The other stuff that looks like grass is grass.
 
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I live in Glade Park, Colorado, a high desert... Any ideas on plants I could use? I would love to have non-grass areas but I need more green than the desert provides. My soil is heavy clay, the altitude is 7000 feet.
 
John Suavecito
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Bidens are medicinal.  Anti-bacterial, I believe.

Yes, Cat, that is a great question. I have mowed before, but then the taller ones are sometimes great vegetables.  I guess one could have a section that was mowable with lower plants and one that was more of a classic meadow with taller plants that was not mowed.

John S
PDX OR
 
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Location: Idaho
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One of my new favorites for pathways, open meadows, lawns, and everything is crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum). Red (Trifolium pratense) and white (Trifolium repens) clover are great too, but this year was my first time with crimson clover. It is lower growing so far than either white or red, and the blooms are bright, intense red (not the pale purplish of red clover) and beautiful. I bought a big bag of sprouting seeds from Azure Standard and spread them around along with buckwheat. I've found that buying sprouting seeds or food seeds like buckwheat or rye is so much cheaper than buying something designated as seed for planting.
 
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Location: Rocky Ripple, IN
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Broadleaf plantain (Plantago major) is perfect for walkways, as it loves compacted soil and will stay small and low to the ground if mowed and or walked on. I have had some get very large and more upright in their growth habit because I avoided stepping on them. Their roots are great for opening up soil and they are a dynamic accumulator. Plantain is also an amazing medicine, good for endless things. Particularly any manner of inflammation/irritation. It will draw out infection and soothe tissue like magic. Even cleared a stye in hours, saving me a doctor visit and antibiotics. It's one of my favorite and most used plant medicines. The narrow leaved plantain (P. lanceolata) is great too, albeit much taller. All the same virtues and looks almost ornamental.

White clover is amazing too, but I wanted to add the caveat that since the bees also love it, walking on it requires extra care. Most of the bee stings I have gotten in life have been walking through clover. On the flip side, it could be great as a mindfulness practice. Just maybe not best for anyone with a bee allergy and love of walking barefoot.
 
Posts: 20
Location: North Dakota
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Paula Broadfoot wrote:I love creeping jenny as a ground cover.  Supposed to be good for wounds, but it can also be invasive.  Not a problem where I am letting it run.



Is that the same plant as bind weed "Convolvulus arvensis"? I have this morning glory ALL OVER! It is the bane of my existence! I have been struggling with that plant from hell for 12 years now. I would recommend anyone not to let that devil weed get out of control. I swear if you sit long enough at my place you will have one if not 2 of those devil plants trying to climb you. My poor clover is gets choked out by that stuff. I spend at least 2 hours a night pulling that shit. I will compost them until they get the seeds on them. Then into the fire they go. I bet i pick probably 3 or 4 5 gallon buckets worth every night. I do have poor soil so i know its trying to be a ground cover but uggghhhhhh!
 
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Location: Utah
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A neighbor recommended planting dog tuff grass as a good alternative to regular grass--less water, no mowing. Anybody have experience with it?
 
pollinator
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Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
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We have pineapple weed/wild chamomile/Matricaria discoidea in a lot of our pathways. It tolerates hard packed soil and stays small and soft when walked on regularly.
 
Kc Simmons
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Phil Swindler wrote:

Do you mean the edible purslane?



As far as I know, it's all edible. The ones with the colorful flowers that I use for my plant sale have crossed with the wild type that is typically considered an edible weed. If I am collecting it for food, I just grab whatever is growing somewhere it shouldn't be, and don't really pay attention to the flower color.
 
Paula Broadfoot
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Dana Martin wrote:

Paula Broadfoot wrote:I love creeping jenny as a ground cover.  Supposed to be good for wounds, but it can also be invasive.  Not a problem where I am letting it run.



Is that the same plant as bind weed "Convolvulus arvensis"? I have this morning glory ALL OVER! It is the bane of my existence! I have been struggling with that plant from hell for 12 years now. I would recommend anyone not to let that devil weed get out of control. I swear if you sit long enough at my place you will have one if not 2 of those devil plants trying to climb you. My poor clover is gets choked out by that stuff. I spend at least 2 hours a night pulling that shit. I will compost them until they get the seeds on them. Then into the fire they go. I bet i pick probably 3 or 4 5 gallon buckets worth every night. I do have poor soil so i know its trying to be a ground cover but uggghhhhhh!



No.  not the same plant.  This one doesn't flower, as far as I know.  Here's a bit more info:
https://www.sunset.com/garden/flowers-plants/color-plants-for-shade/creeping-jenny

It overwintered in Arkansas and has behaved itself, thus far.
 
Dana Martin
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Paula Broadfoot wrote:

Dana Martin wrote:

Paula Broadfoot wrote:I love creeping jenny as a ground cover.  Supposed to be good for wounds, but it can also be invasive.  Not a problem where I am letting it run.



Is that the same plant as bind weed "Convolvulus arvensis"? I have this morning glory ALL OVER! It is the bane of my existence! I have been struggling with that plant from hell for 12 years now. I would recommend anyone not to let that devil weed get out of control. I swear if you sit long enough at my place you will have one if not 2 of those devil plants trying to climb you. My poor clover is gets choked out by that stuff. I spend at least 2 hours a night pulling that shit. I will compost them until they get the seeds on them. Then into the fire they go. I bet i pick probably 3 or 4 5 gallon buckets worth every night. I do have poor soil so i know its trying to be a ground cover but uggghhhhhh!



No.  not the same plant.  This one doesn't flower, as far as I know.  Here's a bit more info:
https://www.sunset.com/garden/flowers-plants/color-plants-for-shade/creeping-jenny

It overwintered in Arkansas and has behaved itself, thus far.


Yes, You are correct. It is a different plant. I wouldn't mind that creeping Jenny.
 
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