Hello, I'm totally new here. I actually came specifically to ask this question, but as I was reading all of the beginner threads, I was surprised by how many forums there are. Looks like I'll be digging in, a bit, lol.
So on to my question. My husband and I bought our first house this past February, and I now have a yard for the first time. It's all grass with two maple trees that need to come down and one crab apple tree that apparently has something called apple scab.
I spent this past spring / summer putting up some raised beds for vegetable square foot gardening, and plan on doubling that area next year. I also put bed along side the front of the house and the side of the garage for flowers and jerusalem artichokes, respectively. Next year I'll be doing another bed on the side of the house with just a bee buddy mix of flowers and sunflowers, as well as new raised beds for strawberries and garlic.
I love working outside in the garden. However, I *don't* love cutting all the grass! Because I'm a bit of a hippie, I disdained a real lawn mower and instead bought a reel lawn mower. In the summer I was spending like an hour a day cutting a section of the lawn. Plus, I'm not a big fan of this whole monoculture thing with grass, that we do. I'd like to have a lawn full of things beneficial to bees.
So, I would like to replace a good portion of the lawn with ground cover. I've done quite a bit of looking around at options, and I have my favorites, but so few sites tell me everything I want to know about a particular plant. So I thought maybe, instead, I would list the things I'm looking for and see if more experienced gardeners might be able to point me in the right direction.
I will say first, that I quite like the look of the following covers:
I actually quite like clover, but it gets a bit shaggy looking. So I'll probably just put that in the back yard.
My plan is to put one or two different ground covers down in a bit of contrasting / complimenting sweep across the front slope of my yard, which has partial shade. Everything else is full sun. So ultimately, I'm looking for two or three different covers, hopefully that compliment each other (say, something variegated next to something solid). I should also note that I'm in south western Ohio, in zone 6a.
Now, on to what I'm looking for:
1) It needs to not die in winter. I'm not looking to reseed or replant every spring.
2) It would also be really nice if it didn't turn brown in winter.
3) The closer to the ground the better.
4) Fast-spreading preferred.
5) I would really like it to be able to be sown from seed, rather than having to buy plants.
6) I would like at least one ground cover that flowers, AND is useful to bees / butterflies. If they all end up having flowers, it'd be awesome if they flowered at different times.
7) Since this is a huge project, I'm not going to be digging up my whole lawn. My plan - and please feel free to tell me if this is a bad plan - is to put down cardboard / newspaper and smother the grass, and put new soil / compost on top of the paper and cardboard, then sow on that. I get free compost from my city, so while it will absolutely be a lot of work, the cost would be low for that part.
8 ) I'm not worried about whether it can handle foot traffic (or invasiveness), as I'll likely eventually put down stones in common path areas, as well has sinking some stones in to separate the ground cover sections from each other.
Okay, that is all I can think of for right now. Thank you so much in advance for taking the time to read this long post, and for any suggestions you may have