A Weeklong Series About Landscaping, Gardening, And Money

CrappylawnI don’t know if it’s the HGTV marathon this past weekend (mom has cable and that’s our favorite channel to watch together) or some links I’ve been collecting these last few weeks but I’ve been thinking a lot about landscaping/gardening lately. I feel like a lot of people want a nice home but don’t have gardening experience or money to do the necessary projects and maintain them. Thinking about beautifying the yard is daunting to me but is clearly necessary to add value to the house and avoid judgement from the neighbors. I will devote this whole week to outdoor beauty and value. Today’s topic: groundcover.

The house I currently live in has little curb appeal mostly due to the lack of lawn. It is spotty with lots of leaves. Sean mowed it a total of three times last year because that’s all the mowing it needed. Our lawn makes it look like we don’t care, which we do. We just don’t know where to start.

SuegardenWhat you plant seems to be determined by your climate zone (see the map at this link to figure out yours if you live in the US), your soil type, and what is immediately underground. (In our case, we live in zone 5, have acidic soil, and have a lot of slate just under the surface.) You also may want to note if your yard gets a lot of shade, if the soil retains moisture well, if there are certain insects about (we’ve got a lot of ants) and you may want to calcuate the square footage you want covered so you can effectively budget your project. (In our case, about 10,000 square feet). This is all good information to take with you to the garden center, because the more information you have, the more likely you will be able to make good choices for your yard situation. 

Here are some ground cover options:

1) Reseeding the lawn with grass. According to my friend Jane, look for grass that works in the shade if you’ve got shaded areas and look for perennial grass (so it’ll come back next year—I thought all grass was perennial but it isn’t!). Prices seem to vary on variety so be prepared to shop around a bit.
2) Moss. I’ve noticed we have a lot of moss naturally growing on our lawn. The New York Times had an article about moss as ground cover just a couple weeks ago. It seems good for acidic and shaded soils (our issue) and it has the added benefit of not having to be mowed. This seems to be a little more expensive then grass seed but may be cost effective over time.
3) Astroturf. At $0.45 a square foot, for about $1,000 dollars, we could have an astroturf lawn. Ew.
4) Dig up the lawn for a huge garden. My friend Sue dug up her whole lawn and made a garden. A ton of work, but gorgeous.

I’m going to shop around for the first two options. In the meantime, does anyone have any tips for a pretty lawn that doesn’t cost a lot of money? Stay tuned tomorrow for more about making the curb of yours more appealing!

First photo: This lawn looks better than ours! From http://www.rmnpforums.com/blogs/

Second photo: Sue’s lawn is amazing and with a lot of work, yours could be, too. I’m impressed; I can’t even keep a spider plant alive. From http://www.onestep-sue.blogspot.com/

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