I hate mowing. Is there a nice looking, economical ground cover I can put in my yard that I can replace my grass with in NE Indiana that doesn't get very tall, ideally something that would propagate well enough to outdo the local flora?

I'm on a quarter acre, mostly full sun with maybe 1/10 of an acre in shade.

  • It hadn't occurred to me. I don't want to kill the resell potential of my home though. – Patrick Schomburg May 12 '17 at 19:19

I've taken out lots of lawns to be replaced with all kinds of things. Need to know how much sun and how much traffic this area will have. One of the prettiest and most inexpensive replacements for a lawn was crushed gravel. Not 5/8 minus but 3/8 minus, a finer texture...gravel ground cover

There is landscape fabric below 4" of 3/8 minus gravel. These people had huge elk herds that would walk across their lawn and when they would come to a stop their sod would just bunch up in front of the elk hooves. They got tired of it and I talked them into gravel and a 'peninsula' to break up the big expanse and boredom. This is exactly what they do in Japan in all their parks, walks. So many people, so much traffic they had to forget about grass. They use a crushed granite which is even finer than 3/8 minus crushed but that is hard to find in the states and near a residence that has a habit of getting tracked indoors. You'd want a good gas blower to blow leaves, needles the errant gravel off walks and patios but every one I talked into doing this loved it so much their neighbors insisted on having their back yards done. Front yards are under the auspices of the Home Owner Association that is strict with lawns.

little park with no lawn

  • These are beautiful, and I couldn't ask for less maintenance. I was thinking of planting some fruit trees, gravel pathways around them would look wonderful. – Patrick Schomburg May 15 '17 at 12:12
  • Cool! I love gravel! One more great attribute is that bad guys are unable to drive up or walk up over gravel without sound! – stormy May 15 '17 at 21:11

Too long for a Comment.

At around $2.50/sq.ft (+ delivery, installation, infill ....) artificial grass is not (initially) economical but is reckoned to pay back in ~6-7 years. More details in GBP. The tendency is for the highest prices to be for the products that are most lawnlike (eg variegated colour, size of 'blades' and springiness).

The high initial cost is partly because the product can look quite realistic (just a bit "too perfect"!) – not at all like AstroTurf (except perhaps if seen from an aircraft).

Even weeds will grow in it (but are easy to remove), adding to the appearance of the real thing.

The prevalence of grass (or slabs, tarmac, paving …) is indication that there really are not many alternatives. Chamomile lawns do exist but they are not durable in areas of heavy traffic and are not completely free of maintenance even where the location is suitable (for soil, moisture etc).

Given that the cost is mostly upfront it might be considered a property enhancement rather than a liability at time of sale of a house – cutting the grass is not the preferred activity for most people!

Life expectancy should be at least 15 years (of little or no weeding, no watering/sprinkler system, no need for a lawn mower/fuel, ...)

  • I wasn't aware how beautiful artificial grass could be. However, as I'm on a quarter acre (I forgot to put this in my question) the cost is prohibitively high. I do like the idea of the chamomile lawn, at least in the sunnier, less trafficked areas. – Patrick Schomburg May 15 '17 at 12:07

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