Ground covers are typically used to cover sites where little else will grow, but with a little creative garden design planning these hard-working garden plants are the secret to creating a handsome low maintenance lawn.
Simple landscaping changes are all that’s required to reduce the overall time it takes to mow the lawn, make mowing faster and easier, eliminate trimming, and much more. Use these landscaping ideas as inspiration to make your lawn more attractive and also reduce the time spend mowing it and caring for your landscape.
In some ways, lawn is the ultimate ground cover. It tolerates foot traffic, plus it is certainly cheap and easy to install. However, lawn comes with a substantial lifetime maintenance obligation. It not only needs weekly mowing to look its best, a lawn needs fertilizing, trimming, weeding, and pest control to stay healthy.
To save time on all of these chores, make a plan to replace a portion of your lawn each year with ground covers. Reducing the overall size will decrease the amount of time required to keep your lawn looking its best.
Start by replacing lawn grass growing around trees and shrubs with beds of ground covers. This makes mowing around each tree and shrub much easier, because you don’t have to fiddle with angling the mower right up against the trunks.
Keeping mowers away from tree trunks also greatly reduces damage to the trees and shrubs, since collisions can damage plant tissue and opens the tree up to invasion by wood-boring insects and other problems. Arranging ground covers in large drifts around the base of trees and shrubs allows you to zip around obstacles quickly. It also eliminates the need to make a separate pass for trimming grass that you missed with the mower.
To speed mowing even further, create islands of foliage by planting ground covers in large beds that encompass several trees or shrubs. This makes it possible to mow around any number of plants quickly without the need to trim around each tree and shrub separately. If the site is shaded, so much the better: Lawn grass doesn’t grow well on shaded sites anyway, but many ground covers do.
Overall lawn shape affects mowing speed more than you might think. The fastest shape to mow is a circle or oval, because you can mow without ever having to reposition the mower or turn a sharp corner. Although lawns are seldom circular or oval, that doesn’t mean you can’t work toward a more efficient mowing shape.
Begin to eliminate the odd corners and patches of grass that are the biggest time-wasters. Look for awkwardly shaped areas at the edges of the lawn that require pushing or pulling mowers back and forth several times to cut completely . Replace lawn grass in these areas with drifts of ground covers to create a smooth mowing edge and reduce overall mowing time.
Edging strips, which separate lawn grass from adjacent flower or ground cover beds, are another way to speed lawn mowing chores. Position the strips so that they are low enough that you can run the mower with one wheel in the bed and the rest of the mower over the lawn. That way, you can mow and trim in one pass.Read more: How To Change A Lawn Mower Blade
Slopes are difficult, even dangerous, to mow, and are perfect for blanketing with ground covers. Select tough, drought tolerant plants that thrive in the existing site conditions so they will cover the site effectively and fulfill their low-maintenance role.
When planting, cut level planting sites out of the slope so rainwater will collect around the plants. Water and mulch ground covers planted on slopes regularly until they are established.
Use ground covers that thrive in damp soil to transform wet spots, where mowers bog down. Also use them to replace weedy grass along drainage ditches, next to buildings and fences, and along stairways, patios, walkways, and utility areas.
By gradually replacing portions of your lawn with ground covers and adjusting the overall shape of your lawn, you can reduce the amount of time it takes to mow and care for your grass. Picking ground covers that will thrive in your garden is crucial, too.
The best choices are naturally suited to the sun exposure and other conditions of your site, and for this reason matching ground covers to the conditions already existing on the site is crucial for obtaining a low maintenance result.
Some sites are especially difficult to landscape, including dry shade and sunny slopes, but there are plants that thrive in these tough conditions and selecting these to cover ground will enable you to transform even these difficult sites.