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Grassless Lawn?

My wife and I just built a brand new home here in NEPA and while the home itself was built to a high standard, our front yard left much to be desired.

Our front yard measures approximately 40' x 30' and consists of our septic mound in the center, which was made level with the rest of our property and adjacent driveway.

In the almost three years we've been in the home the front has always been mostly weeds with a few patches of grass that come in only in spots. It looks awful.

We live on the end of a cul-de-sac surrounded by tall deciduous trees. The ground-cover is mostly ferns.

I've recently begun thinking how much nicer it would be to have a "Grassless," lawn. My thoughts were as follows:

-Kill all existing weeds and grass with a glyphosate product
-Secure a 5oz weed barrier to the front yard https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000W6900S/
-Cover the area with mulch / wood chips and a pre-emergent
-Plant a few shrubs for aesthetics.

We're both young first time home owners and want to make sure we do things correctly. I'm also a world-famous penny-pincher.

I was hoping to pick your brains about my above endeavor, seeking your opinions on the best possible way I could go about doing this myself and being met with the most successful result possible. I've already accepted that I'll be investing in a good shovel and that lots of time behind a wheel barrow may be in my future.

A specific question I had on the mulch was whether or not I had to put down all of the same type of mulch throughout or if I could use a more economical mulch underneath and a more decorative wood chip on top?

The ultimate goal here is a front yard that looks pleasing, is devoid of weeds and does not require me to break out the mower.

Your opinions are greatly appreciated.


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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Grassless Lawn?

I think grassless is a good thing; I'm no fan of grass monoculture. But personally I think what you suggest would be pretty unaesthetic. And it will still require some maintenance - the wood chips would have to be supplemented annually as they break down. And weed barrier only lasts a couple years before the weeds start either breaking through or planting themselves into the broken down wood chips on top.

Short of paving over the whole thing, nothing will be zero maintenance. If it is shady and ferns grow there, why not make a shade garden of ferns and hostas, interspersed with a few flowering shade plants.

https://www.viette.com/images/landscape_ ... rusGdn.jpg

https://www.gardenista.com/files/styles/ ... gler-3.jpg

You could buy pretty many plants for what you will spend on weed cloth and mulch. But you don't have to fill it in like the pictures. Space the plants out and mulch between them. In a couple years they will spread and fill themselves in and you can divide plants to fill in any bare spots. Once established, it will take very little care, no mowing.

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Site Admin
Posts: 9405
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 12:59 pm
Location: Amherst, MA USDA Zone 5a

Re: Grassless Lawn?

Ground cover is the way to go. My mother in law has a grassless front yard that she never tends to. It looks like a small patch of wildland, a mix of moss and pachysandra ground cover. Pachysandra though, it should be noted, is considered an invasive. If it's legal to use in your area then you will have to be responsible and make sure it doesn't get out of control and spreading out beyond your front yard. My mother in law (in CT) doesn't have a problem with it in her shady front yard but your experience may not be the same. I myself would not plant it though nor do I recommend it. However different strokes for different folks.

My current neighbor has a grassless garden made of moss. It's pretty cool. I asked him about it and he said that he simply cleared his yard of leaves and grass and the moss sort of took over. I cleared my own tree shaded front yard of two decades worth of leaves and kept it clear of budding tree saplings and other stuff that kept sprouting and it too is becoming a grassless moss yard, slowly.

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