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is there a baby/small kids friendly lawn?

 
zinneken ikke
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We would like for a portion of > lawn < to be baby and small kids proof, meaning it can't be grazed-mown by goats, sheep, rabbits, etc. Droppings would be a feast for them putting everything to their mouths, touching everything and then hands in mouths, mothers would love the idea of their kids rolling in manure, etc.

So, how can one include a lawn, or lawn-like area, in a permaculture design, without the need for mowing and safe from dropping/manure?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Can you mow it with a non-powered mower aka push reel mower? These work quite well on small lawns - it was the only lawn mower I ever had when I had a little lawn.

A little lawn fertilized with compost and mowed with a reel mower could be a very nice play space for little ones, in my opinion.

A little round lawn is the easiest to irrigate with a little sprinkler, plus round lawns are adorable.

 
zinneken ikke
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Can clover be used for a cut-and-come-again (like grass) lawn? I'm thinking, use the clover for enriching the compost?
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 746
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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There are a lot of tough resilient perennial grasses and forbs that can easily take a mowing a few times per year and keep on kicking butt.

The question of which ones is going to depend on your climate.

Your region [as tight as you're comfortable revealing] would be of great help. For example, if you live in venomous snake territory the lawn needs to be maintained far shorter than if you don't.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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The main problem with non-grass lawns like clover is the bees = bee stings on the babies.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 746
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Tyler Ludens wrote:The main problem with non-grass lawns like clover is the bees = bee stings on the babies.

This might be another regional thing? I've never heard of anybody getting stung by a bee just for disrupting its foraging, but we don't have Africanized bees up here.

Around here generally unless you grab a bee or get too close to its hive it's just going to fly away from you. That goes for bumblebees too... which do make nests in the ground and could pose a problem if not handled somehow...
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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The only time I was ever stung by a bee was as a small child when I put my hand on one on somebody's lawn.

It's possible my experience was entirely unusual!

 
zinneken ikke
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Area is maritime coastal North Sea. No snakes I can see Ticks in long grass/greens could be more problematic then bees in our area.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5615
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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zinneken ikke wrote:Can clover be used for a cut-and-come-again (like grass) lawn? I'm thinking, use the clover for enriching the compost?


yes! We have mowed our side lot several times this spring, it is mostly white clover (I think Dutch clover). It has been a wet spring, so we are mowing often and always we are mowing high...our electric mower is set on the highest setting about 5-6 inches. We use a bagger most of the time (except when the few grasses in the yard are going to seed). The garden loves the fresh clover mulch, not too deep all at once but a steady 2 inches or so all spring and some in the compost too!
looking at the yard it looks very green and when looking down at the 'grass' you see that it is almost all clover.

The downside is that bees like clover blossoms but I don't see them very often and have never been stung by a bee on a lawn.....We all go barefoot out there including our grandkids when they are here. More of a danger is the neighbors dog's occasional surprise 'deposits'.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5615
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
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a couple pictures to go with my post above...

the first is unmowed....the second just after mowing...
This is probably the sixth time we have mowed and bagged this over the spring and each time the clover rebloomed, not sure how often that will happen as the rains will stop soon.
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Honor Marie
Posts: 21
Location: San Francisco area, USDA zone 9
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I would stay away from clover. Barefoot kids have been stung in my lawn several times when they stepped on a bee.
 
Rosa Nutkana
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How about something like this: http://protimelawnseed.com/products/fleur-de-lawn? It stays relatively short, fixes nitrogen, requires less water than grass, is not a monoculture, and is beautiful. The only downside that I can see is that it attracts pollinators, which could be undesirable in your case. Oh well, can't have everything!



 
Mary Saunders
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I would vote for violets in shadyland. I have mowed them, and you can use the leaves in salads if you want, high in C. Short bloom season, and I do not recall seeing bees on them even then. You can also get some dwarf yarrows. I don't know if you can mow arugula, but it is very hardy. Most kids probably would not like the taste. The flowers are divine for most adults though--a great mix of spicy, sweet, and nutty. Some cresses stay low. Purslane is absolutely no care, high in omega-3's and very useful especially in Mexican cooking and salands. Chives might not be bad. I also like chamomiles. Lipstick strawberry is really cute, small, and tasty and minimal care. I would not try to make a monoculture of this. Just try things you like to use, and see what does the best.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Location: Longbranch, WA
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A moss lawn may work. Dose not need to be mowed. Tolerates cool and shady areas. Ideal for a maritime climate. During dry summer weather it will go partially dormant and make a soft mat for rolling around on. Not suitable for heavy adult foot traffic but may work for the babies.
 
C. Letellier
Posts: 223
Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
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Don't do clover in the lawn if it is where kids primarily play. The majority of my lifetime bee stings came from such lawns. Usually from stepping on the bee barefoot but I have one from sitting down on a bee and a couple in hands that I put on the ground while playing or resting. The neighbor's lawn where we played growing up was about 1/3 white dutch clover and those blooms drawing bees got us the stings as we played and was the worst source of stings.


In a really dry climate I would suggest what my folks called alkali grass. This is NOT the correct name for it. The closest thing I have found on the internet is muhly grass which is a bunch grass while what we have is a turf grass but otherwise look very similar. The seed head is soft and fuzzy yellowish white to pink and in this heavy clay high salt high alkali soil it only gets 6 to 8 inches deep. In fertile soils it will go 2 feet. It is a warm season grass that is very drought tolerant. By careful control of watering you can actually push normal turf grasses out with it because it needs so much less water. It is pale green in color with a turf grass type soft friendly texture. Mostly it is the seed head that gets tall and the grass itself tops out at about 3 to 4 inches in this soil. It is not a high traffic grass so how much the kids played there would matter. A path walked in shoes 3 or 4 times a day every day will beat down to dirt. But for play with mostly bare feet over a wider area it does okay. The neat thing is low maintenance and low water. Mow it once a year to knock the seed heads down and it makes good lawn.
 
Anne Miller
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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I would look at native grasses for your area. Are there any that do not grow too tall? Next I would think you would need to separate the the play area with a hedge, rock wall or something to keep chickens, goats or what ever animals you might have that would leave droppings.

I don't know if this one is suitable for your area but Blue Grama grows 3-6 inches tall and is attractive if left unmowed.
 
Amanda VanderVeen
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You could look at https://www.stepables.com/3/zonemap.html for some ideas. They list a bunch of different lawn alternatives for various conditions.
 
Anne Miller
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Amanda, that is a great website, thanks for posting. Love those flowing lawns!

After some thought, I wanted to suggest a area devoted to play sand. What fun the kids would have! Also I wanted to mention an edible landscape around the perimeter. Think of plants especially for little hands. I can't recommend any especially for kids but Turk's cap (Malvaviscus drummondii) is edible -the leaves, flower and seed. Chives and Fennel (Butterflys love)and any cooking herb.
 
Steven Kovacs
Posts: 189
Location: Western Massachusetts (USDA zone 5a, heating zone 5, 40"+)
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Violets are great (and low enough that babies can crawl over them, unlike tall things like chives) but they DO attract bees when flowering. Not for long, and not like some other flowers, but we definitely had bees on our violets this spring.
 
Debbie Sauerteig
Posts: 22
Location: Ontario, Canada. zone 5 continental cold temperate
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There are no-mow or little mow lawns out there.
Here is one from my region:
http://www.wildflowerfarm.com/index.php?route=product/category&path=20
So I would suggest either this, or moss, whichever would work for you and your babies.
 
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