Landscaping and lawns

There will be another post on landscaping coming shortly, but does anyone have any experience using evergreen “ground cover” as a lawn replacement? We were thinking about just sodding some lawn in initially, but this weekend, we saw some interesting stuff called Stepables which is essentially a collection of evergreen plants you can use in lieu of grass. The stuff apparently only grows 1 or 2 inches tall, never needs mowing, and can be trampled on almost as vigorously as a traditional lawn.

My feeling about lawns is that they are only as nice as the time you’re willing to put into them, and I can’t say I’m willing to put a ton of time in. Evergreen ground cover seems like a really attractive option, although I can’t say I know anyone personally who’s tried it yet. It doesn’t seem to look quite as good as a nicely mowed lawn, but I’d settle for decent looking if it meant zero maintenance… especially if I could walk on it to release an awesome minty fresh scent.

This stuff is called “Blue Star Creeper”. Sounds smokable.

10 Responses to “Landscaping and lawns”

  1. Cali Says:

    The minty part and low maintenance sound really nice! It looks pretty decent, too. Do you know if it’s soft like grass? I don’t think I would want a “lawn” that’s too pokey to walk on barefoot.

    The name does sound like a “gourmet” variety of marijuana– the kind that sneaks up on you and wrecks your whole Saturday. Not that I’d know anything about that, of course! ;-)

  2. max Says:

    Sounds interesting. You may want to check out EcoTurf, which is actually grass, sort of, but requires far less or zero (depending on how you want it to look) mowing/watering than the normal stuff. The City of Seattle promotes it.

    Also, the “creeping” plants are a nice durable ground cover that isn’t rodent friendly (English Ivy is awful for that). Some that I like are “creeping thyme” and “creeping jenny”

  3. Drew Pickard Says:

    I’ve always wanted to have a moss lawn.
    Tough to kill, very soft and spongey to walk, sit and lay on.
    However, maybe easy to mess up if you’re hard on it.

  4. Mike D. Says:

    Cali: Yeah, the mint is very soft and dense. Other varieties vary. You can get even denser stuff, as well as harder stuff if that’s what you’re into. I kind of want something that looks and feels like it should be stepped on with bare feet.

    Max: Interesting. It may be a tad tall for my tastes though. I really want something that is only an inch or two off the dirt.

    Drew: I actually like the look of moss up close, from from the street it looks a bit — ehhh — mossy? Stepables has a nice Irish Moss.

  5. naomi Says:

    I have Blue Star Creeper in a large swath of my front yard, and have mixed feelings about it. It does still need to be weeded. (clover tends to infiltrate easily) It looks fabulous from April-August, then the hot sun and lack of rain just about kills it. And when it dies, it dies in patches and looks like someone poured acid on it! Winter is also not a pretty sight. It always comes back later, but if you are going for a consistent look, then I might try a mix of different “stepables” to see what works best.

  6. Cara Says:

    I’ve grown the Stepables Irish Moss in my garden for years and it’s awesome! It gets really dense and you can walk on it probably even more than you can regular grass without hurting it. It gets tiny white flowers on it in the summer too. I’ve always wondered if you could replace an entire lawn with it because it really would be zero maintenance. Just a note – I tried the Stepables Scotch Moss which is very similar but a brighter yellowish green than Irish Moss but it doesn’t grow as dense or low to the ground in my experience.

  7. yolanda Says:

    This is OT, but did you see this in the Times?

    (via AT)

  8. Dave Says:

    I understand your desire to remove the maintenance, however, a lot your size should require very little, especially if you use a native grass species. (Hopefully your builder did not scrape the topsoil off your lot before building, as happens in New Jersey a lot.) Native species have fewer problems and are easier to maintain because they are accustomed to the climate. Your local nursery should be able to tell you what species are native to your area.

    Grass is great in terms of handling wear and tear, is extraordinarily hardy, and helps prevent soil erosion better than most plants. It’s pretty cheap, too, whether you go for sod or seed. You don’t need any sprinklers, either, if you keep it a little longer.

    As for a lawn mower, you’d probably be best served by a good, old-fashioned reel mower such as this one from Sears:
    No gas, oil, or spark plugs, has the footprint of a push broom, is inexpensive and quiet, and (presumably) environmentally friendly. If you layout your landscaping properly, you can avoid needing any other lawn tools.

    If you decide to go with a ground cover plant, check out the plant name on the Stepables packaging (viz. Mentha requienii) then look online for a cheaper vendor. Stepables is a name brand and is fairly expensive (especially considering I always see them in tiny containers). No matter how “fast” they say it spreads, it’s still slow. You can also get plant reviews (seriously) from people that have planted it and see if it’s good for your zone, how easy it is to maintain, etc.

    You could also go the moss route. I don’t know if you can buy native mosses, but you could just walk through your neighborhood and grab random handfuls of attractive moss (and there’s thousands of species, some more attractive than others). There’s instructions online for how to cover an area with moss. I’ve been meaning to try this one for a while:

    Just the other day I found this great usage of moss:

    I’m a huge fan of Japanese gardens and if you look through Google Images you’ll find other great uses of moss.

    I’m looking forward to your next landscaping post.

  9. Dave Says:

    Quick amendment:
    Moss does not actually have roots. So, while it will survive a casual stroll mostly unharmed, it will not stand up well to rough or constant traffic.

  10. Kari Says:

    Stepables are a wonderful product to use. I used to work in a nursery & I was introduced to this unique group of plants. I have planted many varieties of stepables in different locations for light to heavy foot traffic areas. That is one of the very cool things about them, you can plant the ones that are lighter foot traffic in between pavers or along borders, & save the plants marked for moderate to heavy foot traffic for your main walkways, so that you still have a differences in your landscape. It is a very out of the box way to see “lawn care”, I hope that it was successful. ;*)