low growing flowers to sow in lawn?

Ashley_Clark(z7 VA - C'ville)April 4, 2003

I'm looking for a list of low growing flowers/plants, 3-4" tops, that I can seed into my existing lawn. I've heard about clover, wild violets, buttercup, thyme, chamomile. Any suggestions? How do I sow - mixed into grass seed when oversowing or boradcast separately? Where can I get the seed? I'd sure like to see some in my lawn this season. thanks!

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ken_mce(zone 4, NY)

When you get that list I want a copy!


    Bookmark   April 4, 2003 at 7:07PM
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This is exactly the question I was going to ask. We just moved into a house in an older neighborhood where the lawns are all very nicely kept. Nothing special, it's not a posh place, but I would like to have mostly herbs and flowers and very little grass, but still have it look decent during the long winter. We have mixed shade and sun, with the most sun in the morning. There's one huge old tree whose roots are on the surface. What a fun place to tuck something. I know a lot about gardening, but not how to create this type of front yard.

Thanks, Clare

    Bookmark   April 5, 2003 at 7:53PM
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John_Blakeman(z5/6 OH)

Sorry, but what you envision doesn't exist. You can't just toss some seeds in the turf and expect them to establish and persist. The grass is too competitive. You'd have to start by killing existing turf and then seeding the forb ("wildflower") seeds into bare soil, then watering and mowing, and . . .

But you are most likely to end up with a mass of undesireable weeds, too.

Real meadows (prairies, native grass areas) don't just happen. They have to be specially created with appropriate seed mixes (varying from region to region) planted and nurtured properly.

Sorry for the bad news.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2003 at 9:38PM
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froggy(z4/5 WI)

i think there are some things u can put into a lawn to 'livin it up'.

crocus and other spring time bulbs are a perfect example of what u can do. mow and rake it clean in the late fall and rake it again in the early spring so u dont have to mow while these beauties are doing their thing. once the bloom is done...the mowing then starts and they sleep till another springtime blooms them.

but for the most part john i correct...that animal just doesnt exist. but i do have a solution for u all.



    Bookmark   April 7, 2003 at 8:40AM
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Ashley_Clark(z7 VA - C'ville)

I'm not looking for a real meadow, just an interesting lawn. I've already got some clover growing, and I planted several wild violets in the bare spots. Bee-yoo-tee-full! FYI I've put a posting on a local internet bulletin board looking for vinca, ivy, bulbs, forsythia, dogwood, etc.; folks here are starting to clean up their gardens and I volunteer labor to help cull their gardens. I get great freebies! Most of these are going in specific garden spots, not in that lawn I'm talking about in this post. However, I have had folks offer to let me dig up their wild white and blue violets, and the buttercup later in the season. I'll just pop in the plants and not worry about seeding. It's not like I don't have time to let it do its own thing - the lawn is already feeling pretty spoiled just getting mowed! I've also heard of scilla and other bulbs. The possibilities are endless. Woo hooo!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2003 at 12:59PM
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macfairman(10 N. CA)

Someone posted a picture of a heart shaped collection of crocus she planted into her lawn last fall. It was stunning! I found the post, see the link below.


Here is a link that might be useful: crocus in lawn

    Bookmark   April 10, 2003 at 2:12PM
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Ashley_Clark..this is exactly what I am planning to do. I have a question, did you just you seed to establish the clover or was it already there?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2003 at 3:54PM
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Ashley_Clark(z7 VA - C'ville)

Hi WildFlour. My lawn came ready made with clover. It's pretty spotty coverage, though.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2003 at 10:10AM
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John_of_Illinois(Zone 5b)

Possible species to consider are Claytonia virginica (Spring Beauty), Hypoxis hirsuta (Yellow Stargrass), the smaller Houstonia spp. (Bluets), and Antennaria spp. (Pussytoes). Spring Beauty, in particular, adapts well to lawns. The others may thrive if mowing is delayed until after the blooming period, and the grass is not cut too short later in the year. It's much easier (but expensive) to establish these species in a lawn using nursery-grown plants, or by planting the bulbets. The germination of seed of such species in a lawn is less reliable and may produce disappointing results.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2003 at 6:28PM
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erstanfo(8/9 Olympia WA)

See: http://gardening.wsu.edu/library/lawn006/lawn006.htm for study done at Oregon State Univ on this subject.

The basic components in the Corvallis OR trials are perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass. Other additions include yarrow, Roman chamomile, English lawn daisy, and clover.

Another comercial seed mixes are ECOTURF - ECOLOGY LAWN - FLEUR DE LAWN

    Bookmark   April 17, 2003 at 1:19PM
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Not sure if this example fits the above request exactly, but this morning I noticed that volunteers of woodland phlox P. divaricata, were blooming in an area of lawn that has not yet been mowed this spring.

This plant grows to well over mowing height (12 inches plus) when in bloom, but the persistent, semi-evergreen leaves that remain after the bloom period are much shorter and may well survive a summer's mowing -- as apparently did the seedlings survived mowing last summer.

The nearby bed that was the source of the phlox seedlings also containes spring beauty, and I hope that this species will also gradually migrate into my weedy lawn.

Another species that has been seeding itself around liberally is golden ragwort, Senecio obovatus. This is another species that gets pretty tall when in bloom (a little later than the phlox, it is just starting to bloom now), but the persistent leaves are much lower. I have not seen this species in my lawn yet, but it seems likely that it will eventually grow there, especially if I delay mowing in the spring.

All of these speices are good reasons to mow less and to start mowing later in the spring. All my neighbors have been mowing for weeks, but I have only had to to a little touch-up mowing of high-visibiilty areas of my non-fertilized lawn!

Here is a link that might be useful: woodland phlox

    Bookmark   April 18, 2003 at 10:02AM
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Bullnettle(z8b TX)

I went to my son's house this week; in their lawn, growing beautifully, were winecups, pink evening primroses, and herbetias. All, including the grass, were under 5" tall, and probably under 4". Another suggestion is blue-eyed grass.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2003 at 5:07PM
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It is important, if you want whatever you add or allow in to this lawn to persist, that you NOT fertilize the lawn and to mow high - as suggested by John, above. Fertilization strongly favors dense grass which leaves no space for the colorful species. Crocus and snow drops are non-invasive Old World bulb species, and violets, Johnny-jump-ups, spring beauties and most suggested by others should work in your area.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2003 at 8:56AM
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John_of_Illinois(Zone 5b)

Some other species for lawns: Viola sororia (Common Blue Violet), Ranunculus fasciculatus (Early Buttercup), Fragaria virginica (Wild Strawberry), and Senecio plattensis (Prairie Ragwort). These are all low-growing plants that bloom during the spring. Again, it's important to delay mowing during the spring, don't cut the grass too often or too short, and don't apply fertilizer containing nitrogen. Other species of violets or ragworts are potentially adaptable to a lawn-meadow as well. The Common Blue Violet is an aggressive spreader, even in lawns that are maintained normally. The Wild Strawberry and Ragworts can spread readily as well if the lawn is not cut too short. Early Buttercup I'm not certain about -- it's quite short and blooms early, however I'm not that familiar with its adaptability and capacity to spread in lawns. I've seen Dentaria laciniata (Cutleaf Toothwort) invade mowed areas -- this is normally a spring wildflower of woodlands that may flourish in partially shaded areas of the lawn if one adheres to the above mowing regimen.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2003 at 7:01PM
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greenjeans_seattle(z8 WA)

i'm researching plants to put in a lawn too. here is a list of plants that look promising:

roman chamomile
english daisy
scotch moss
irish moss
creeping thyme
mock strawberry

a roman chamomile lawn is supposed to smell great when walked on.

i'm also going to experiement with real mosses.

i'm starting from bare soil, and will try planting plugs of the plants. maybe you can cut out some circles of sod, and plant the flowers/moss, then follow the mowing and (no) fertilization methods already suggested.

have fun!


    Bookmark   April 28, 2003 at 12:05AM
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oogy4plants(6B MD)

This spring I saw creeping phlox growing in lawns nearby and they looked great! I was wondering how to get them established. The patches I saw were pretty big but interspersed with lawn grass. I did not see any weeds. I guess since it is evergreen and low growing it is ideal for this. Anybody here done this?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2003 at 4:53PM
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greenjeans_seattle(z8 WA)

an update: i seeded with "fleur de lawn" and planted indiviual plants of english daisy and irish & scotch mosses. it's great! the lawn filled in around the plants. i helped the plants out by cutting the grass low around them, and they are spreading nicely. i planted more plants after the grass was up, by cutting holes in the grass and planting there. the front yard is done, and i just started on my back. it can be done! (:

    Bookmark   July 12, 2003 at 2:07PM
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We have lots of common blue violet, which has volunteered to infiltrate the entire lawn. I'm still not sure whether to be happy or worried. Looks nice in the spring, though. A very subtle volunteer is dwarf cinquefoil -- tiny yellow flowers low to the ground. Not a bold statement, just a quiet beauty waiting to be discovered.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2003 at 9:39AM
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rebow(6 Philly)

One of the prettiest things I've ever seen was my neighbors lawn this spring when the johnny jump ups and dandelions(gasp) all bloomed. Those colors work great together. My kids and i had a blast making wishes on all those dandelions once they went to seed.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2003 at 10:50PM
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mina(Z5 Chicago)

bluets - houstonia species.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2003 at 12:12AM
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steilberg(6 lou,KY)

are you sharing your list / we have a problem with small vine with round leaves.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2004 at 6:17PM
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We used "Fleur de Lawn" eco-lawn and it is great. Low maintenance and beautiful. The english daisy and red clover provide much color.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 2:53AM
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Gralfus(z8 Vanc WA)

Baby Blue Eyes - Nemophila menziesii

I had this in a lawn mix once. Very pretty, but they didn't come back after mowing, so I must have mowed too low, or the clover choked them out.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 5:10PM
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ahughes798(z5 IL)

Ashley, You may rue the day you planted the English Ivy, it's very invasive, and may not only become a problem for you, but for your neighbors, too. Everything else sounds really cool!

I've got violets and white clover in my lawn, I just leave them be, they're kind of pretty. The clock is ticking on the lawn, anyway. April

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 5:42PM
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taylmat_OK(z6B Tulsa)

Blue-eyed grass is all over lawns here in north Tulsa. Looks marvelous. Bermuda is just getting going unfortunately and people are mowing them down. The variety in my lawn is about 4" tall.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 1:38PM
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This is not a flowering plant but it is very low growing so you get a lawn which requires no cutting and looks great Try Dicondra Repens. It has small slightly round leaves and once established spreads quickly. It is starting to overtake the grass in my lawn. I now wish I had started with this plant before planting grass seed. Hope this helps

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 3:38AM
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"Sorry, but what you envision doesn't exist. You can't just toss some seeds in the turf and expect them to establish and persist."

Actually, you can.

I broadcast both dutch white clover and crimson clover on my lawn earlier in the year in copious amounts (clover seed is cheap). I didn't even rake first. And I now have crimson clover blooms popping up.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 10:43AM
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