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Grass replacement for child play area

 
pollinator
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I have an open grassy place in the yard set up as a play are for the kids where they can run around and have their play things. I don't want to mow it any more. I would like to plant something rather than cover it in wood chips or something like that.  

Any ideas of something that would not needed mown but still be nice to run around on and lay on?
 
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I have never grown creeping thyme though I would love to have some and I have heard that it is good for paths. Sedums, ajuga and dusty millers are also low growing.

This article about creeping plants might be helpful:  https://www.thespruce.com/creeping-plants-what-they-are-examples-uses


Here are some other thread that might help:

Fun-Landscapes-Kids

Plants-kids-gardens-ideas

Planning-colourful-living-playground-kids
 
Adrienne Halbrook
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Thank you very much  Anne! I will check out the link and those threads.
 
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You might like this grass free research https://www.grassfreelawns.co.uk/gallery.html
 
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Where I live ticks can be a big problem due to transmission of Lyme disease.  Your thread got me thinking about what plants might serve to repel ticks from a play area for both people and pets.  One site recommends chamomile to help repel ticks with the added benefit of improving surrounding plants, so perhaps adding it to a polyculture lawn replacement while also gaining a nice tea source.
 
Greg Martin
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Supposedly mints can repel ticks as well.  I'm searching online right now for one that is short and can handle foot traffic.  Anyone know a good candidate?

update:  supposedly the dwarf pennyroyal 'Nana' spreads well, takes moderate foot traffic and grows 1-4" tall, forming a tight groundcover.  Pennyroyal is also said to repel fleas and ticks.  May be worth experimenting with.
 
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Hi Adrienne,

The only thing I know of that can handle that type of foot traffic, requires less water then grass, creates its own nitrogen to stay green, is a good food source for native wildlife, and also creates good pollinator and beneficial-insects habitat, is white clover. I threw those extra benefits in, just to exemplify the permaculture aspect ; ) Though I wouldn’t plant just your basic Dutch white clover, as it can get too tall, sometimes over 12 inches. I would plant a dwarf version of white clover spacifically breed for drought resistance, and use in lawns. I can't think of the spacific cultivare name off hand, but im sure if your interested in it, you could do a search and find a variety that will suit your needs well. As I belive the spacific varietie I'm thinking of is short enough you won't have to mow it hardly ever. The differnt developed cultivars of white clover, have different maximum growth heights, so you'll want a short one, somewhere around 3 to 4 inches tall. So you'll maybe just have to edge and mow the area quarterly, to keep it from creeping over sidewalks, and looking tidy. Thats the lowest maintenance solution I can think of, besides wood chips, as other plantings don't do well under heavy foot traffic, plus they need nitrogen fertalizer, and would typically require more time involved maintenance per square foot. Just make sure your white clover seed is inoculated with the appropriate rizobium species, so you can benefit from its ability to fix its own nitrogen. The seed dealer should be able to let you know about seed inoculation. You may need to add a little lime to the planting area, one time yearly, depending on your soil type, but that about covers the maintenance. So I'm guessing depending on yard size, no more then 5 hours of maintenance per year after the initial instalation and establishment, and thats if it's a big yard.

Hope that helps!
 
Adrienne Halbrook
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sam na wrote:You might like this grass free research https://www.grassfreelawns.co.uk/gallery.html



Thanks for the link sam na! What cool, colorful designs!
 
Adrienne Halbrook
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Greg Martin wrote:Supposedly mints can repel ticks as well.  I'm searching online right now for one that is short and can handle foot traffic.  Anyone know a good candidate?

update:  supposedly the dwarf pennyroyal 'Nana' spreads well, takes moderate foot traffic and grows 1-4" tall, forming a tight groundcover.  Pennyroyal is also said to repel fleas and ticks.  May be worth experimenting with.



Oh what a good idea Greg! Thank you! Been a really bad tick year again so I love the idea of using tick repelling plants.
 
Adrienne Halbrook
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R. Steele wrote:Hi Adrienne,

The only thing I know of that can handle that type of foot traffic, requires less water then grass, creates its own nitrogen to stay green, is a good food source for native wildlife, and also creates good pollinator and beneficial-insects habitat, is white clover. I threw those extra benefits in, just to exemplify the permaculture aspect ; ) Though I wouldn’t plant just your basic Dutch white clover, as it can get too tall, sometimes over 12 inches. I would plant a dwarf version of white clover spacifically breed for drought resistance, and use in lawns. I can't think of the spacific cultivare name off hand, but im sure if your interested in it, you could do a search and find a variety that will suit your needs well. As I belive the spacific varietie I'm thinking of is short enough you won't have to mow it hardly ever. The differnt developed cultivars of white clover, have different maximum growth heights, so you'll want a short one, somewhere around 3 to 4 inches tall. So you'll maybe just have to edge and mow the area quarterly, to keep it from creeping over sidewalks, and looking tidy. Thats the lowest maintenance solution I can think of, besides wood chips, as other plantings don't do well under heavy foot traffic, plus they need nitrogen fertalizer, and would typically require more time involved maintenance per square foot. Just make sure your white clover seed is inoculated with the appropriate rizobium species, so you can benefit from its ability to fix its own nitrogen. The seed dealer should be able to let you know about seed inoculation. You may need to add a little lime to the planting area, one time yearly, depending on your soil type, but that about covers the maintenance. So I'm guessing depending on yard size, no more then 5 hours of maintenance per year after the initial instalation and establishment, and thats if it's a big yard.

Hope that helps!



Great suggestion R. Steele, thank you!  I think this would work really well, I'll look into it and find a supplier.

I think this type of dwarf white clover as a base with the tick repelling plants Greg shared, along with some Dandelions, Plantain, and maybe a few other short, tough "weeds" that like to grow around here mixed in would make a great and low maintenance grass replacement!
 
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Hi Adrienna,

I did some checking and a recomended named cultivar of the dwarf or more commonly called micro-clover is Pipolina. You will most likely have to order it, but the supplier should let you know if its pre inoculated, or if you need to purchase the compatible rizobium strain. Unmowed micro clover is said to grow 6" tall, and if you mow it, its said to get even smaller. Quarterly mowings most likely won't have a significant impact on its overall height, so hopefully  that height works for you. The micro clover is said to not be a prolific bloomer, so hopefully the sparse blooming isn't to much of a detraction of benefits. If you want more blooms, the other option is just standard dutch white clover, which will get on average taller, 4 to 8 inches tall, and is the typical white clover you see growning in most laws.

Hope that helps!
 
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Tick repelling is a great idea, yet I'd recommend using caution with pennyroyal around kids. It's a strong medicinal herb (known for being used as an abortifacient).

 
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I'm thinking that one of the lower growing mints would work find in a lawn--even a taller one would. I trim my mints a lot, and they grow back fast. My ducks love to lay on top of my Orange Mint, and that plant sure doesn't seem to care.

I'd try one of the edible mints instead, so there's no worry of kids ingesting something dangerous.

Now I really want chamomile in my lawn, and don't feel so bad about the chances of my mint spreading to my lawn. Less ticks is a good thing!
 
Adrienne Halbrook
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Tick repelling is a great idea, yet I'd recommend using caution with pennyroyal around kids. It's a strong medicinal herb (known for being used as an abortifacient).



Thanks for the heads up Jocelyn!!
 
Adrienne Halbrook
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Nicole Alderman wrote:I'm thinking that one of the lower growing mints would work find in a lawn--even a taller one would. I trim my mints a lot, and they grow back fast. My ducks love to lay on top of my Orange Mint, and that plant sure doesn't seem to care.

I'd try one of the edible mints instead, so there's no worry of kids ingesting something dangerous.

Now I really want chamomile in my lawn, and don't feel so bad about the chances of my mint spreading to my lawn. Less ticks is a good thing!



Yes! Edible mint sounds great. I'm going to add it to the seed mix I want to plant.
 
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