Now the cool thing about our back yard is it is HUGE. There is already a sand box with a little jungle gym for the kids on one side of the yard. That whole side will be exclusively for the kids and dog. It is about 3/4 of the yard committed to the kids being able to play. The grass is already torn up from the dog so we will be planting ground covering, soil building herbs to mow down instead and build the soil loam. This will give the kids and dog a nice place to run and play without the useless grass that takes and never gives. It will also LOOK like grass when it is mowed without using hundreds of gallons of water to be useless.
What herbs will be be seeding in the yard? We will seed chamomile, red clover and plantain and encourage dandelions. Around the trees we will grow many different herbs including mullein, and peppermints, horseradish fava beans, garlic and more with the climbing vine of the Passion Flower and morning glories reaching up to cover the trunk and give me some of its beautiful flowers to make herbal medicine with. Comfrey will be planted in our “wet spots” to grown and propagate as it pleases. I got all of these seeds (and more) from Mountain Rose Herbs (affiliate link).
Why am I planting my herbs like this? Well my goal for the whole yard is to create a healthy, loamey soil that not only supports a diverse and healthy ecosystem for plants and animals alike, but also uses less water than the typical yard. This is something else I got from the permaculture book Gaia’s Garden (affiliate link). The more healthy the soil is, with a nice soft loam full of decomposed plant matter, the more the soil will retain water. The more water the soil retains, the less watering it will need. This is very important everywhere, but especially where we live in Colorado. We are in the middle of a ten year drought with no end in sight and water bills are skyrocketing. By building up the soil we are also conserving a very important natural resource. My goal is in three years for the yard and permaculture area on the side of the yard to be self sustaining with very little need of additional water.
Chamomile is a great herb to “chop and drop”. It will provide plant matter to quickly build up the plant material on the ground. Red Clover is beautiful, attracts good insects that prey on the common “pests” in vegetable gardens, and fixes nitrogen in the soil. Plantian fixes nitrogen into the soil which is very important for soil health. Dandelions break up the soil with its extensive root system and also adds nutrients to the soil. The majority of the plants will be chamomile and red clover to get the “grass like” feel in the yard. The other benefit to all of these plants is they don’t need much water at all to grow. They are “weeds” and grow with very little encouragement making them the perfect ground cover.
Creeping susan is another plant that has been recommended to me for a creeping ground cover. It likes full sun and is soft to run on. It wouldn’t need to be mowed and is indigenous to the area. Our yard doesn’t have full sun but it might be a good solution for the front yard.
So those are my ground cover thoughts for the back yard. I am planting seeds for the herbs I want to grow and letting them take over the grass over time.
What are your favorite ground covers to use instead of grass?
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