Looking for grass lawn alternatives

gatorfreak(8)April 30, 2013

I'm in Florida and tired of mowing my front yard. It's a waste of space as it is. It gets full sun all day. I'd like to replace it with something that is low maintenance, won't cost much to do, and is relatively easy. Perhaps there is no such solution. Ideally it would be with something that produces food.

Is there anything that could take over the yard on its own, produce some food, and not require much maintenance?

I really don't care what it looks like. I'm aware of xeriscaping (or Florida Friendly landscaping) but that would require a lot of money or effort to do.

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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

I sure like my sunshine mimosa as a groundcover - bees & butterflies do too.

The only drawback is managing the tough runners wanting to creep into beds.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 10:19AM
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Wow, what a great suggestion! I did some reading on it and I can't believe I haven't heard of Sunshine Mimosa before...or that everyone else doesn't have it already.

Although it doesn't produce food, it fits every other criteria I was hoping for. By far the best solution I've heard of yet.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 10:34AM
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zzackey(8b GA)

I don't know what can do all that you are asking for! I have some Asiatic jasmine growing in my greenhouse. It came in a pot from a trade. I've seen it used several places. It doesn't flower, but the little leaves are cute and glossy and it doesn't need much water.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 3:55PM
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rednofl(9b Goldenrod Fl hz 10)

Sweet potatoes if you dont mind having a brown lawn during the winter. My neighbor a few doors down has it in the utility easement by the street and it looks great 9 months of the year. Not sure how long it would be green in zone 8

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 7:42PM
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I turned my front lawn into meadow. And various edible "weeds" grow in it, such as purslane and perilla.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 9:05AM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

So weird - I could've SWORN I embedded a pic of mimosa in my 1st message...

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 9:15AM
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That's ok, it was easy enough to google sunshine mimosa.

Regarding the sweet potatoes, I actually tried that and it didn't do as well as I'd hoped. It was very sparse and was losing out to grass, weeds, etc.

The purslane sounds interesting for a patch of edible plants.

I've already started killing off a section of my yard that is mostly weeds with some grass to plant sunshine mimosa! Hoping it does as well as it has for others I've read about on the web.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 9:33AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Is this the same groundcover that in a recent post Jane said was a "nightmare"? Does it depend upon your perspective (love it or hate it), LOL? See link below, third post, 4th picture in the post.

Carol in Jacksonville

Here is a link that might be useful: Help! Re-doing front beds

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 12:38PM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake

Everything is a matter of perspective. To some, turf grass is a nightmare, to others its a symbol of 'perfection'. While many of us use liriope for borders, there are some who hate it and complain that, like mimosa and passionvine, it's difficult to remove once established. In that post where Jane calls it a nightmare, I also commented on how great it looked. Simply a matter of differing opinions. ;)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 1:16PM
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Some people use perennial Peanut as a lawn substitute.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 9:44PM
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rednofl(9b Goldenrod Fl hz 10)

I bought some mimosa to try in my utility easement on the street from the native plant society. I was told only plant it where it is contained. Once it gets in your beds it can be a real pain.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 6:49AM
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We have chenille planted in a filtered sun area. Nice cover, plus the blooms are a bit unusual.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 7:57AM
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KaraLynn(z9 FL, Inverness, Citrus)

I have sunshine mimosa planted in one half of my front flower bed and while it can be a pain when you want to add another plant to the bed it works great for helping to keep the soil in that bed moist. In the other half of the flower bed (it's split by the front sidewalk) I have chenelle plant and while it's pretty it doesn't seem to be nearly as effective. The down side to sunshine mimosa is that it will go dormant in the winter if the temps get low enough.

I've been adding all sorts of things to my front lawn in an effort to at least supplement the grass. On one side of the driveway I have some perennial peanut which seems to be struggling somewhat as I do not water the lawn on a regular basis. On the other side is the sunshine mimosa that is spreading out from the flower bed. Scattered throughout are patches of blue-eyed grass (it's really a tiny native iris), and down in the ditch in front of the house I have wild onions, native white rain lilies, pink rain lilies, and a little native false garlic. Also scattered about the lawn are clumps of spiderwort, also known as virginia bluebells, this plant while attractive can become something of a pest as if you brush up against the spent flowers they will dye your skin and clothes blue. They also can be rather rough on a lawn mower.

Also in the front lawn is coreopsis grandiflora, although I've been digging it up and potting it. It spread to the lawn by seed from plants in the flowerbed. It really gets bigger then what I want growing in the lawn. I prefer to have things that can handle the occasional mowing when the weeds start getting overly tall! If you didn't mind it's height then I can tell you that it has no problem making itself at home with the grass!


    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 11:03AM
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This is a shot of my front flower bed. I've been trying to plant some bushes and annuals to fill it up. The green you see is the Mimosa. It spreads a foot a day by underground runners which are as thick as tree branches. You cannot pull it up. I tried using a hoe to chop at it with no luck. Had to resort to using tree pruners. You have to dig around the roots and cut them with the pruners. Very difficult and time consuming, plus it doesn't work! Once you cut the underground tree trunks, it spreads in every direction.

If I weren't trying to grow shrubs and flowers, it might be fine. You would never get rid of it. Tried Round-Up and didn't do a thing. I think you'd have to use Agent Orange. I just want to warn you, this stuff is unbelievable.

In this shot, I'm trying to clear an area to plant some shrubs.

You can see a small Hibiscus (on left) which got smothered with the Mimosa and I tried to pull it out.

In this shot you can see some small impatients totally covered with the Mimosa. I spent hours trying to pull it up away from the plants.

I do think it would make a great replacement for lawn as you can walk on it easily with no damage. It does send up the pom-poms which I notice attract bees but I haven't had a problem yet. I wouldn't walk barefoot on it. The flower heads do make seeds, spreading it even further.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 3:08PM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

Wondering if having mimosa surrounding trees & shrubs might not be beneficial - it is a legume & fixes nitrogen....

Here is a link that might be useful: IFAS document on mimosa

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 10:11AM
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I've slowly been transplanting an easy to grow succulent from the side yard to a large bed in the front. I think it's a kalancho of some sort and is usually grayish green with pretty pale coral flowers. Sometimes it drops babies but it also spreads by rooting tall stems that fall over. It's easy to spread, easy to pull up and tends to cover the ground enough to keep weeds down. I'm planning on giving some to friends who want ground cover. Am also trying chocolate ajuga in high traffic areas: under the doggie door. Maybe i can plant it between some large 14"pavers....tired of ants and weeds :-P

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 2:15AM
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as i understand it planting legumes as groundcovers does help certain aspects of citrus/fruit production. i'm using both the mimosa and the perennial peanut and i'm hoping to get them in a fairly even mix in the yard. both have a positive effect on the nematode population increasing the soil diversity, but not really chaning the total number of nematodes ... in other words you have the same number of nematodes in the soil, but they are shifted away from things like root knot nematodes, to nematodes that consume fungus, or ideally, those that consume other nematodes.

i'm a lot lazier than the other people in these photos. i'm just letting it slowly invade the landscape from seeds and small clippings i've started in places. both are slowly popping up throughout the yard. eventually when the yard has some in almost every place, i will probably splurge and use herbicides to kill off the last of the grass. normally i do everything organic, but i would like to kill the st.augustine once and for all. i really really hate grass.

jane those pics are very encouraging. :)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 7:22PM
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Could someone, please, share with me the cuttings of both perennial peanut and sunshine mimosa? Pretty please. I can offer anything from my trade list or pay postage. Really need to fix my front yard.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 1:44AM
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the box stores have perennial peanut. There are several varieties though. Lowe's carries one and HD a different one. Also one called eco turf I think.
The sunshine mimosa can be harder to find. I had it a my last house. I got a tiny sprig in a trade and it went on to cover a good sized area but it did take several years. I wasn't concerned about keeping it contained.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 1:29PM
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I want to clarify about the peanut varieties. I picked some up from Home Depot last year (where it was also labeled as "Ecoturf) and I believe it to be Arachis pintoi. The foliage is a darker green, the leaves slightly narrower and the flowers "safety" yellow (like the road stripes and school buses.) While the flowers are a prettier, richer color, the plant got to be over 12" tall when I removed it all. Arachis glabrata var. 'Ecoturf" is shorter, has slightly wider leaves, LEMON yellow flowers and is the plant most people would use as a lawn substitute ... so far is staying about 3" tall, but only installed in February. Not positive, but I got the hunch that A. pintoi is able to tolerate some shade as well. If you want a lawn substitute, get the 'Ecoturf' with LEMON yellow flowers.

I am editing to add that as soon as the daytime temperature leaves the sweltering zone, be forewarned, one will have no luck at all trying to make cuttings of Arachis glabrata. I made many last year, which took fine, but those I made in the late summer Sept. & early Oct. made no progress at all. In fact many went through the winter with zero roots! Also, plants I installed in October made no growth. Apparently Arachis prefers heat and it wasn't until next late February/early March that I saw any growth. Then it grew like crazy in the heat.

This post was edited by Yardvaark on Fri, Sep 6, 13 at 19:38

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 7:31PM
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In my opinion, you can't beat Lirope. It spreads all by itself, doesn't get over 10" tall and BLOOMS! I have it planted around all my trees and flower beds - it looks fantastic and is blooming nearly year around. It never needs mowing and looks uniform and neat all the time.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 11:22AM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake

Depends on the variety of Liriope. I think it was down at the Discovery Gardens where they have Liriope that stands 18-24" tall. Next time I am down there I will take pictures and post them.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 12:32PM
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