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Toko Aakster

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since Apr 28, 2022
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Grew up on a farm, moved to the city for work, trying to turn this suburban lot into a nice little ecosystem until I can work out how to move back onto a farm.
Kentucky, USA
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Recent posts by Toko Aakster

I see the question a lot 'can I use hay instead of straw?' or 'WHY do people keep saying to use straw instead of hay?'
I figured I'd do a write-up.
If anyone want to add to this, please feel free!

Note:
I am defining 'Hay' here as 'Grasses and other green plants that were cut own while still green, left to dry, and then gathered.'
I am defining 'Straw' here as 'Grasses, usually cereal grains, who were allowed to mature and dry while standing - the stalks are cut, seeds gathered from it, and stalks left behind to be gathered.'


Properties of Hay vs Straw (in consideration for use as building material)
Timothy Hay & Straw may be made from the same plant, but they're gathered at different points of maturity, so they have different strengths/weaknesses.

Hay
Higher nitrogen content - if the hay gets wet (even from dew condensation) they will begin to deteriorate much faster than straw.
Contains edible softer green tissues - animals like rodents and bugs will burrow through it, seeking food, defecating, initiating decomposition.
Edible to larger animals - horses/cows/goats WILL try to eat it, if it's exposed.
Since it was collected green, the grass stems in hay have thinner walls and poorer tensile strength, compared to straw.
High non-grass content will lower building material usefulness.  The long fibers in strands of grass create a sturdier woven internal structure compared to the snap/crumble breaking pattern of legume plants.
High-quality hay is cut while still green, and BEFORE it has gone to seed, so good-quality hay should have very few, if any seeds. However, if there was plentiful growth of other species of plants throughout the field other plant species may have already gone to seed, so weeds will happily sprout when conditions are favorable.  (This is why some people get LOADs of weeds sprouting in their bales when used as mulch, while others don't have that problem)

BALED Hay
Modern hay is often collected with a machine that roughly chops down the blades of grass. This method creates many uneven pieces, and packs them together with twine.
These smaller pieces are more malleable than straw, so when baled, they will be further warped/crushed.
Baled hay is more likely to collect water, rather than let it run off, compared to scythed hay or baled straw. Collecting water = decomposition. If enough hay is stacked then decomposition creates heat that cannot escape, and the rising temps = hay combustion & fire.

Scythed Hay
The grass is allowed to grow tall, and then cut at the base with a scythe, so only 1 cut on the stem is made.
The hay is allowed to dry, and then used loose or bundled so that the stems are oriented in the same direction.
Or tossed up into haystacks, where the long strands are angled downward around the outside to help water run off and not penetrate much deeper into the stack.
Thoroughly dry hay can be somewhat hydrophobic, but it will begin absorbing moisture FASTER than straw.
This is the most-similar to straw, and can be used as thatching in a pinch, but is still weaker than straw, since its stem was not allowed to mature/thicken and dry before harvesting. The insides were still soft, thin, & transporting plant juices when cut.

Straw
Low nitrogen, high carbon/cellulose.
Allowed to grow to full maturity, seed, and then die back, straw stems empty of plant juices on their own and leave behind thick, hard structures of dry cellulose.
This means straw has more tensile strength - it resists breaking & bending.
This also means straw is more hydrophobic, being completely dried out already. It will shed water from its surface more readily, rather than soaking it up
The seeds have already been removed, so mice/bugs are less attracted to burrowing through it (aside from the insulative properties)
Larger animals are not attracted to eating dry straw, due to the toughness and low nutritional content.
Because of the low nitrogen content, decomposition is more likely to be fungal - not bacterial. This is much slower, and mycelium may assist in preserving the structure for a little while longer, even as the straw itself begins to fail.
If you can scythe your straw instead of cutting it with a combine, the fibers will be longer, and you'll have fewer smaller pieces creating weak points.

Check out historic thatching in Britain for ideas on outdoor-stored hay and straw : Link


--

In Conclusion:

Hay makes a great compost & soil builder. It adds nutrients and soaks up water more than straw. It rots down faster to build great soil. Fungi and bacteria both love it. Hooray to feeding the soil! However, that means it decomposes quickly when exposed to small amounts of moisture, and the green stems attract things that want to eat it.

Straw makes a great building material. It's more hydrophobic, and has been used for building stuff for centuries. It doesn't break down as easily, and has a higher tensile strength. Not many animals enjoy eating dry straw.
3 months ago

Greg Payton wrote:
#4 (bale shelters) seem like a really good idea. The outsides could be used to grow some various plants and the shelters could be rotated to different locations when one deteriorates (a year or two?). I am curious, how would you build a roof/top to shelter them from snow and rain? Are you thinking a wood frame with hay bale walls?

Also on #4 can you think of some good vine-like plants or "side growers" that might grow on hay bale walls while not destroying it too fast?

#5 on 3-bale tall walls, interesting idea. I think I kinda need to see an example. Do you have a picture or sketch?



For composting : This, but as big as you want it.



Growing anything in the hay will make it decompose faster, as you need to allow water to get to the roots, to let it grow.
Adding plants and water shortens the lifespan of a wall down to 1-2 years, likely on the shorter side.
For slowest decomposition, keep it as dry as possible.

This is one option: with one layer of bales stacked up 2-3 high around the edges, and up the back. A lower roof and wider sq footage may be more effective if you have larger animals - or a few of these built next to each other in a row.  (If you have wind storms, extra bracing inside the hoop may be needed)
Using a tarp directly over a haybale stack or structure is not advised, as the tarp will hold in moisture and encourage condensation.


You could also make a yurt-like structure for a wider footprint and more stable walls. Circles are less likely to collapse than squares.



These folks are installing extra drainage under their straw roundhouse so it breaks down slower, and thread bamboo through the bales to provide extra support for stacking them higher. I've also seen people use whippy sticks/unwanted saplings for this step - essentially 'sewing' the bales together.

Or you could shingle it with reclaimed wood...




3 months ago
So, you've made something out of reclaimed wood.
Maybe it's a fence made from reclaimed wood, or shingles for your goat's shelter, made from free pallets.
You're looking for something to waterproof your wood, to make your shit last.
When you're using reclaimed woods, they're thirsty and soak up oils like a sponge.
Maybe... you don't want to use up all your nice oil on pallet wood.

Welcome to iodine values.

Iodine Value is a direct proportion of mono-and poly-unsaturated bonds within a fatty acid. (A fat or oil.)
IV is defined as the number of grams of iodine absorbed by 100g of fat.

It is a measure of the degree of UNsaturation.

Fully hydrogenated oils and waxes have an IV of less than 1. They're extremely stable. Even when exposed to air, they will not react to form polymer structures or oxidize.

Oils/Fats with an IV below 100 are known as 'Non-Drying Oils' - they will resist hardening, and will retain their slippery or liquid quality

Beeswax has an IV in the range of 6-16. While it's extremely stable when exposed to air, it may still harden a little over VERY long periods of time when exposed to open air. I'm talking a century or more.

Oils/Fats with an IV above 130 are known as 'Drying Oils.' - When left out in a warm place with plenty of ventilation, drying oils will react with the chemicals in the air and form those polymer structures - hardening into a solid. Drying oils are very suitable for using in oil paints - and for treating wood for waterproofing.

The initial hardening will usually take 2-5 days, and then it will continue to cure for up to 6 months. A hardened coat can be picked up and manipulated, but it should not have heavy things placed onto it until fully cured, or the oil may also stick to the heavy object.
A higher IV score means it cures faster. The oil readily reacts with oxygen and other components in the air to form hard polymer structures.

Remember: the higher the IV, the faster it hardens/cures when exposed to air & heat.

Walnut oil is sold as a drying oil, but takes a bit longer. Its IV is 132-162 - an average of 147
Safflower Seed oil is likewise sold as a drying oil. Its IV is 136-148 - an average of 142
Poppyseed oil's Iodine number is 140-158 - an average of 149
Tung Oil is 160 - 175 - an average of 167
Pure (raw) Linseed oil is around 155-205 - an average of 180
Boiled Linseed oil is 170-204 - an average of 187
Chia Seed oil is 209-211 - our highest IV oil with an average sitting at 210.

I would like to introduce:
Soybean oil.
Often sold as generic 'Vegetable oil' for a humble $8 per gallon.

Soybean oil's IV, is 124-139.  An average IV of 131.5 - It scraped in as a 'drying oil' by the skin of its teeth in Iodine Values, but generally isn't considered one because the dry time is longer than a week.

Soybean oil already has an established place in the paint & varnish industry. Link  Link2
While it's rarely used on its own due to the slow dry times, it was often blended with other faster-drying (Higher-IV) oils to bulk them up without reducing the overall IV much.


Making your nice oil go further

So, let's say you have some boiled linseed oil. Very nice, it cost you $45 for 1 gallon.
You then buy 1 gallon of soybean oil for $8.
If you mix them together 1:1, you'll end up with 2 gallons of oil with an IV of approximately 159
Mix them 2:1 and you'll end up with an oil with an IV of approximately 145 - an average IV that is 3 points higher than Safflower Seed's average of 142.

So, you'll end up with 3 gallons of an 145 IV oil, and you'll have only spent approximately $61 (plus tax)
Downside: That oil coating will probably take between 4 and 7 days to dry. You'll want to do this when there's no rain for the next week or so.

For VERY thirsty woods, like reclaimed woods, mixing in soybean oil could help stretch the waterproofing protection without blitzing through all your nice oil.

Now.... will these calculations hold up in real life? Will the final oil be up to your standards of dry time and curing strength?  
Only one way to find out!

(Maybe try it with smaller amounts of oil first, rather than gallons at a time...)
3 months ago
Hey there!
Sounds like you want to dig into making a Silage Pit.
It’s usually dug in dry, sloping land (avoiding ground where water will pool up from the water table, or surface runoff into your pit)

Once silage pit is dug, it’s covered with a plastic sheet to cap it, then covered with earth to ensure a good air seal + pack it down a bit.

Silage can be made with anywhere from 30% to 75% moisture content - so you can mix dry hay and fresh green hay together to make a lower-moisture silage.

Well-maintained, well-sealed, and well-packed, silage can last for up to 3 years.
-

Biggest CON with my suggestion:

You gotta BLEND the dry hay and green forage for this to work. So, you’d be taking apart the hay you already baled, scattering it in a green field and then harvesting it again - cutting the greens and packing everything into your silage pit. (no drying - you want it green, and haybale shapes would make ) air pockets inside your pit.

You may be able to scatter the hay right before a rainstorm, and gather the wet hay and green forage for a very damp material that will easily compress.

Just dousing the dry hay with water could easily lead to a spontaneous combustion fire in large volumes, since it’s hard to pack dry hay down tight enough to shift it from aerobic (heat-producing) to anaerobic (cold fermenting)

The goal is to smush the silage down and suffocate it so the aerobic composting bacteria eat all the oxygen before they get too hot, and then choke/die.

Not adding enough greens could give you the same issue with hot composting instead of a cold ferment.

So, it’s risky, and a lot of work.

Also you have to dig a big pit, or have an empty silage silo just laying around

And you have to get used to working with silage to feed animals.
-


Second option: bale planting.

Hay does compost very rapidly, and is a self-fertilizing growing medium once it starts composting.

Set aside a spot for growing a crop of food.

Pack the dry bales in wide rows, with as narrow paths between them as you can. You want to minimize airflow around surfaces, so get the bales really tight next to each other.

Soak the bales.

Once it’s thoroughly soaked with water, (rainstorms are helpful) let sit for 2-3 weeks to hot compost for a bit.

You can now plant directly in the bales, as deep as you want.
Hay composts itself, acting both as a water-absorbing mulch and fertilizer as the hay has far more nitrogen than straw.

Pros: A lot less extra processing work, and since they’re open to the air and only 1 bale deep they can’t get enough stored heat to combust.

Wherever you stick them will have AWESOME soil next year.

Perfect for an area that gets waterlogged when rainy - the crop will have loads of water as the hay soaked it up, but won’t drown, since it’s raised up.

Cons: extra airflow can make the hay dry out faster around the edges, so a drought-resistant crop is probably a good idea

Crops made EASY with hay bales as a growing substrate:

Potatoes - no digging required. No risk of accidentally cutting the potato with a spade. When they’re ready to harvest just break apart the bales and scoop out clean potatoes. Just make sure that initial sprouting potato is buried DEEP in the bale.

Pole or bush Beans - very easy to spear sticks into the bales to make no-cost trellises for them to climb.

Squash - like zucchini, gourd, acorn, winter or summer squash. I’m currently growing various squash in hay bales and they are taking over everything.

Tomato - pick a drought tolerant species, but they seem to love growing in hay.  (Though they’re hungry and may need a bit of extra compost/manure on top of what the hay provides)

—-

More brainstorming:

Sell bales at a discount on somewhere like Craigslist or Facebook marketplace, and tell people you charge x$ per mile traveled for deliveries, but they can pick it up themselves for free if they arrange a time to come over.



I’ve also seen hay used as a temporary winter shelter for livestock - stacking it up into walls, not worrying as they were exposed to precipitation because they were only 2 bales thick - not enough to combust.



Or stacking the bales up into 3 tall walls and 1 low wall - a composter. Throw your compostables in and the walls will also compost over time. You could plant the walls with strawberries or beans or something, to give it a dual purpose
—-

You could donate the hay to a nearby rescue organization who cares for horses or cows.
Then write the donation off on your taxes

3 months ago
Making Tofu:
Tofu is made from soybean curd which has been pressed into a block shape, then stored in a brine.

To make soybean curd:
1. Grow soybeans (A LOT of them)
2. Harvest the beans
3. Remove from their pods
4. Soak the soybeans in water overnight
5. Remove the hull from each soybean
6. Puree the bean and with clean water until it's 'soymilk' - a liquid emulsion
7. Strain it to make sure all solids are removed (in case you missed a seed hull or two) - but keep the liquid
8. Bring to a boil and skim off foam (about 5-7 mins)
9. Lower to a gentle simmer (about 20 mins), stirring gently, then take off the heat
10. Dissolve the coagulant of your choice in a cup of warm water - the MOMENT it's completely dissolved, begin pouring into the stovetop soymilk.
11. Gently stir the milk & coagulant for about 1-2 minutes.
12. Allow the mixture to sit undisturbed for 15-25 minutes.
While the mixture sits, small white curds will separate from amber colored liquid.
13. Once the process of curd-forming is complete, transfer the curds into a molding container lined with cheesecloth or a similar fabric.
14. Fold the fabric over the curds and place a small weight on top to begin pressing out the liquid. Allow the mixture to be pressed by the weight for 20-30 minutes or until it holds together.
15. Remove the block of tofu from the mold.
16. Store in clean, salty water until you're ready to eat it~  

Coagulant options:
Gypsum OR Liquid Nigari / Nigari Flakes / Epsom salts (Magnesium Chloride)
Gypsum tends to act faster and results in a firmer tofu.

Freezing the tofu and thawing it again before cooking will help it be denser/meatier/absorb more flavors.

One pound of dried soybeans can yield up to 20 small blocks of tofu.
National average yield per acre is about 50 bushels per acre.
1 bushel of soybeans = 60 pounds
so 1 Acre of soybeans is 3,000 lbs of soybeans
or 60,000 tofu blocks (and a LOT of water)

If you had a 100 sq ft garden (10ft by 10 ft) and ONLY planted soybeans, and got an ok yield, you'd get about 6.8 lbs of soybeans, or 137 small tofu blocks.
(remember: husks and hulls don't count here. We're only looking at unshelled beans)

Making Tempeh

You can use soybeans, or almost any bean, grain, or large unshelled seed to make tempeh.
Making tempeh is a process of controlled fermentation. The beans are inoculated with a starter culture that contains Rhizopus mold spores (either Rhizopus oligosporus or Rhizopus oryzae), and then fermented at a warm temperature. As the mycelium grows, it binds the beans into a dense, white cake.

Tempeh should be made in a vented container with the beans lightly packed and no more than 1 inch deep. The vents must be large enough to allow for air circulation, yet not so large that the beans dry out.

In order for the mycelium to grow, the beans must be kept at a temperature between 85° and 90°F for 24 to 48 hours. If the temperature is not warm enough, the tempeh spores may not grow and you may get unwanted bacteria. Conversely, if it is too hot, the spores may die.

1. Soak the beans overnight
2. Remove the hull & split the beans in half if they're large
3.  Drain the beans, transfer them to a large pot, and cover by 2 inches with fresh water. Bring to a boil.
4. Skim off and discard any foam or hulls that rise to the surface.
5. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender (about 45 minutes)
6. Drain the beans.
7. Spread them out on two towel-lined baking sheets and pat them dry.
8. Let the beans cool to below body temperature.
9. Transfer the beans to a clean, dry bowl. Sprinkle the vinegar over the beans and mix well. (to help prevent unwanted bacterial growth)
10. Sprinkle the tempeh starter over the beans and mix for about a minute to distribute evenly.
11. Put the beans in their containers.
12. Place the bags in the incubator. The temperature must be between 85°F and 90°F for the next 24 to 48 hours, so periodically check to make sure the temperature is consistent.
13. Between 12 and 24 hours you should start to see some white mycelium growing on the beans. You may want to lower the heat source because the beans will start generating their own heat as the mold grows
14. Depending on your conditions, the tempeh may take up to 48 hours total. The mycelium will continue to thicken, forming a white layer around the beans and binding them into a dense, firm cake. The tempeh is done when the entire surface is covered with dense, white mycelium (some black or gray spots are okay), as well as the spaces between the beans. The beans should be bound together firmly as a cake. You may want to slice a small piece off the edge to make sure the cake is firm all the way through.

--

The words "I want to make beef/steak/chicken/turkey from plants" confuses me.

You can make very savory, dense materials that you can use /in place of beef/, which can fulfil a similar role as beef in many recipes, but beef is cow muscle. You can't make beef out of plants.

It's like saying 'I want to make a solid gold ingot out of quartz' <--- you can make a quartz bar in the shape of an ingot and treat it with chemicals to appear gold, but it will always be quartz.

Are you looking for a texture mimicking? Are you looking for a similar savory flavor? do you want big crumbles or little crumbles, or a slab of something that you can sear on both sides and cut into strips? Do you want something you can batter and deep fry and douse with bbq sauce?
Those are all different requests, and will get you different answers.
3 months ago

Blaine Clark wrote: Sunchokes (...)the broth tastes exactly like squash. That might be worth taking a shot at for some of your broth projects.



I love squash! I planted some sunchoke seeds this past spring, but they were from a collection that got left in the shed overwinter, so I wasn't surprised when none of them sprouted.  Ah well~ I'll have to get some fresher seeds for next year. Thank you for the tip!
3 months ago
A lot of folks are trying to find perennial greens that taste decent when eaten raw or roasted.

Personally, I'm sensitive to the 'bitter' taste of most greens, and I'm rather particular about textures in general.  
Even spinach can be too bitter to eat raw if the leaf is on the mature side, and that's a very well-established 'sweet' leafy green.  Kale especially just tastes like bitter 'leaf' to me - I don't really understand people's love of it, aside from accepting that some people just enjoy the taste of leaves.
Mushrooms also - While I love the flavor, I can't stand the texture of most mushrooms.

Solution? Boiling & Blending

I make a lot of smoothies & soups with my perennial greens.
Instead of adding a bunch of sugar to sweeten & overpower the bitter, I use complimentary savory/creamy/acidic flavors so that the bitter flavor is at a level that is ok/acceptable.

Creamy Tomato, Basil & Greens soup
Creamy Squash & greens soup
Creamy Potato & greens soup
Chicken & greens soup
Chicken, Corn & Dandelion Root Soup - (When Dandelion roots are minced finely, I really enjoy the texture & flavor)

The key to adding greens to many soups is blending it or mincing it up very finely, so you never have to chew through a whole mouthful of super-bitter leaves.
Basil especially can go REALLY far in disguising the bitter flavor of other leaves.

I have personally eaten very young dandelion greens, Hosta baby leaves, and plantain baby sprouts - they all share a very mild 'asparagus-salad' flavor that I could easily eat with a balsamic vinegarette, but would not enjoy eating raw, on its own.
Making sure you're actually harvesting YOUNG leaves, before the plant has gone to seed, goes a long way in ensuring it's actually palatable.

You can also pack greens into an otherwise fruity smoothie. The fruit's natural sugars and acids mute the bitterness.

I've also packed a bunch of edible greens into a soup pot along with with some oil, boiled it thoroughly, and then removed the solid leaves, using the broth left behind as a base to make another soup. It's a lot less bitter than eating the solids, and both water and fat-soluble vitamins/minerals get leeched out into the water.
You don't get the fiber content of eating the whole leaves, but you're definitely adding nutrients to your diet when you otherwise wouldn't find the whole leaves palatable.

I just can't enjoy most bitter leaves - annual or perennial. But I know they're super good for me, so I work around that flavor to make it palatable.
3 months ago
Oh shoot, that's actually an awesome idea. Your friend's grandma just handed out a 10,000 IQ move.

Bugs (stink bugs included) have what's colloquially called a 'Death Stench' (lol) - which tells other bugs 'Oh shit, something poisonous/dangerous is nearby, better run away'


Biologist David Rollo discovered this when studying the social behaviors of cockroaches.
When a roach locates a new amazing place full of food, it gives off a chemical pheromone to attract other cockroaches.
But when a cockroach dies, its body produces a pheremone that strongly repels the cockroaches.
They crushed dead cockroaches and spread the body-juice in different areas - some with food, some regular corners, etc. "It was amazing to find that the ockroaches avoided places treated with these extracts like the plague."

So far the research has found that the 'death stench' fatty acids are found in pretty much all common insects, and is a UNIVERSAL repellant for insects.... even woodlice and pillbugs.

Even though woodlice and pillbugs are crustacians, they produced the same set of fatty acids that create the 'death stench', and so were equally effective at repelling bugs when mashed.

They also found that a log treated with the fatty acids (extracted from dead bugs, not the mashed bug paste itself) repelled wood beetles in an open forest environment for a full month - even through rainfall.



Bonus: Humans can't deetect the fatty acids of the 'death stench' - it's not the same compound as what sting bugs or cockroaches give off when they die.

so if you wanted to collect woodlice, pill bugs, stink bugs - any pest bugs, really, mash them up, dilute them a little so it'll fit through a spray, and hose down your plants.... I'm almost CERTAIN that it will work!

I'm honestly gobsmacked that I never made that connection. I knew about the death-chemical and how it made bugs run away, but I never made the connection "Oh, use dead bugs as a natural bug-repellant"


I.... really want to try this, now. I'm sure I could find loads of pillbugs under various rocks. The squash beetles have arrived, and something's been chewing my amaranth and peach trees to bits.

If I could just blend up some bugs to make a universal bug-spray....if it /works/, we may have just stumbled across a solution to one of the biggest difficulties in organic gardening: How do you stop bugs from eating your plants, without using toxic gick?

Bro, I'm so excited. Please please pleast do this and come back w the results! I'm also going to go bug-hunting when I get home.
3 months ago
Catalpa doesn't have any herbicidal effects or toxins, as far as I know. Should be completely fine to compost down.

If you've got just flowers, go for it, no problems.

If you've got flowers mixed w/ seed pods, you'll need to make sure the compost gets very hot to kill off the seeds, or your garden where you use the compost will be full of sprouts lol. (Personally, I just let it happen, then yank the new sprouts and let them mulch down in-place. Chop & drop!)


Flowers are a favorite edible for a lot of insects, since they're delicate & easy to digest. I'm sure your compost fauna will love them =)
3 months ago

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.


  • 3 months ago