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No Mow Ground Cover

 
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Is clover a good option? I read that certain varieties (e.g. Dutch White) only get about 5" high. Are there downsides?  Are there better options? Thanks.
 
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Hi,  Without knowing about the type of property you have (city lot, country lot, acres etc...) it might be difficult for people to suggest something.  I have a rye grass that grows to about 1 foot tall for a field grass.
 
pollinator
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Your USDA Zone would be helpful as well.

 
pollinator
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I'm going to respond with my info, and hopefully Paul will return with his. :-)

We're in Middle TN, zone 7b, slowly planting the area around a new house, about a half-acre garden (part of a bigger property). It was heavily wood mulched a year ago and only now has plants peeking out. We have lots of perennials areas planted in but I'd like to put in a no-mow perennial cover in the areas that we want to keep more open. I had one permaculture landscaper suggest dwarf white clover. I wouldn't mind a mix - prefer not to have a monoculture. Looking for suggestions that won't grow too tall, so we can walk on it, not through it.

Thanks in advance for any ideas!
 
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I keep hearing about a low growing microclover that is a low/no mow lawn substitute. I don't know a source for seed though.
 
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Arthur Angaran wrote:Hi,  Without knowing about the type of property you have (city lot, country lot, acres etc...) it might be difficult for people to suggest something.  I have a rye grass that grows to about 1 foot tall for a field grass.



a year or two ago  I planted I forget, italian rye grass that will die, any how planted a 4 foot x 4 foot square of it, It was beautiful about 16 inches high.   Then 'motel' the neighborhood dog laid down right in the middle of the patch, and flattened most of it!
 
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Michael Moreken wrote: It was beautiful about 16 inches high.   Then 'motel' the neighborhood dog laid down right in the middle of the patch, and flattened most of it!


Oh, Motel.
 
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TN, Zone 7B.... no-mow perennial cover


Hey there! I'm from KY, zone 6B. I haven't mowed my partially-shaded back lawn in.... almost two months.  It started because I prefer to mow right before it's about to rain, so the plants have lots of water to recover from the top-off, and I just couldn't get the timing right. Then the shaded areas just stopped growing taller, so I thought 'huh, ok then.' and now I'm not mowing the back because there's no need to.
Idk your opinion on how 'lawns' should look - you mentioned it was heavily mulched earlier, so you might even be dealing with more of a 'garden you can walk through' instead of a lawn.
I like my richly weed-filled lawn =P  It gets a lot of pollinators in the spring, and in the summer it stays cool & lush without watering.

so! Here are my suggestions for 'plants you can walk on, and also generally seem to cap out their height mid-shin or lower'

Note: Only a few of these are USA-native plants. Most are naturalized 'weeds' from asia/africa/europe that just do very well in our climates.

Only for aesthetics - don't walk on it.
Stonecrop / Seedum - fluffy and lush-looking, low-lying, but it's a succulent so walking on it will damage it.

Good for occasionally walking on, but not severe traffic:
  • Creeping Thyme (There are many species - some with purple or yellowish leaves, vs the dark-green common shade)
  • Common chickweed
  • Clovers
  • Wild violet
  • Creeping jenny - Lysimachia nummularia
  • Broadleaf Plantain - Very lush foliage. Tends to form clumps that may not be attractive, but they're always cool & feel wonderful under bare feet in the summer.
  • Rattlesnake plantains - native to TN!
  • Creeping Woodsorrel -  Looks like delicate clover with yellow buttercup flowers,  Stays low to the ground


  • Good for heavy traffic areas:
  • Buffalo Grass will grow to 10-14 inches long, but the blades bend over when they get long, so the grass is only 4-7 inches 'tall' - It's a USA native plant!
  • Dandelion. Their flowers/puffballs might poke up higher, but the vegetation seems to top out around calf-level.
  • Annual bluegrass grows 6 to 8 inches high when left unmowed, and then stops growing. It's a lush carpet and I love it.
  • Ribwort Plantain / Buckhorn plantain keeps a good, low, lush height for the most part, but they also shoot up taller flower spikes
  • Creeping Charlie (not to be confused with Henbit or purple Deadnettle) - It generally creeps along the ground, flowers are similar in appearance to henbit/deadnettle, but it only gets 'tall' when it's trying to climb UP something. I haen't really seen it get tall in the middle of the yard.
  • Creeping Fescue - it grows best in cool seasons, spring and fall, and will turn brown during the summer's hottest weather - however, it's just dormant and will perk back to green very quickly as soon as the temps drop and water returns.


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    pollinator
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    At our new house, we used white clover and I love it.  It's pretty, holds up well to some foot traffic, it doesn't get really tall, it stays nice and cool for the dogs to lie around in, and the bees love it.  I like it so much better than grass.
     
    pollinator
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    White clover is good here but perennial peanut works a little better through our hot summers.
     
    Erica Colmenares
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    Toko Aakster wrote:

    so! Here are my suggestions for 'plants you can walk on, and also generally seem to cap out their height mid-shin or lower'


    This list was super helpful, thank you!

    One plant I haven't seen listed here that is doing well in 7B, growing between our front pavers, is mazus. We have it mixed with creeping jenny. The creeping jenny is having a tough time right now with the heat, but the mazus looks pretty happy and is spreading.
     
    steward
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    Erica Colmenares wrote:

    ... I'd like to put in a no-mow perennial cover...



    May I suggest looking into sub clover. It is very low growing, forms a thick mat and spreads by stolons.
     
    Douglas Alpenstock
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    James Freyr wrote:May I suggest looking into sub clover. It is very low growing, forms a thick mat and spreads by stolons.


    Ah! That sounds like the lawn replacement clover I've been hearing about. Thanks!
     
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    Douglas Alpenstock wrote:I keep hearing about a low growing microclover that is a low/no mow lawn substitute. I don't know a source for seed though.



    I’m doing micro clover on my suburban lawn mixed with regular grass for 1.5 seasons now.  I like it and will overseer more heavily this fall.  The micro clover seed is very expensive.  I just have a 3/4 acre suburban, maybe 10k sq/FR of lawn.  Could not afford to do a large space.
     
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