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Lawn Alternatives - HURRY!!

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Stonehenge, Jul 30, 2001.

  1. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 1,277

    I've been asked to be a source for the local paper on the topic of lawn alternatives, like anything other than mowed BGs, Fescues, Ryes, etc.

    Please, only those who have had first-hand experience reply -

    I'm interested in knowing what kinds of ground covers you've used, or if you've done the prairie thing, or rock gardens, or whatever. For the method you chose, what was it's cost relative to a sodded or seeded lawn of the same size.

    Also, for some alternatives, did you run into trouble with neighbors or the city with 'weed' ordinances?
  2. kermit

    kermit LawnSite Member
    Posts: 138

    I am fond of VINCA MINOR. Costs.75/plant in celpaks. Needs a mulch like cocoa bean shells on planting. Needs to be weeded for the first season, after that it is thick enough to choke out 99% of weeds.

    Costs are much higher at the beginning and in the short term and much less in the long run due to no cutting,pesticides etc.

    it is evergreen and flowers all season in our climate.

    Agopodium is also nice in our climate but a mixed perrenial bed is more atractive.

    Never heard a neighbour complain most want more info.
  3. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Posts: 1,625

    Not a lot of time to give you:(
    Here's a link on prairie plants, cost is up there seed cost for class 5A IDOT Large pairie flowers is $1000.00 per acre really need two years to prep it. funny thing is you only need 5 lbs per acre:)

    heres the link http://www.prairienursery.com/Design_Estab/3SitePrep.htm
  4. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,662

    We have seen just as Kermit the Vinca Minor used, Periwinkle, Pachysandral, Ground Ivy's.

    As far as the intial installation process is concerned, the cost of putting in 3000 or so plants will outweigh that of grass or sod. Once you figure in the yearly maintenance costs its almost like comparing the vinyl fencing to wood that has to be painted every other season on the low end. They say the cost is 10 x's more in the end run to use the wood.

    Lets say that you had 8m/sf to cover. If you were to SOD the area it would cost you upwards of $7500(.90+/sf). If you were to SEED that area it would cost you a modest $3400(.42+/sf). If you were to PLANT the area it may cost you a minimum of $2500(.31+/sf).

    If you figure in the average Maintenance Contract (.14+/sf) pricing you will have paid for that in two years:
    MOWING:32 cuts @ $25/cut
    CHEMS: 4 apps @ $40/app
    GRUB CONTROL: $80/app
    LIME: $50/app
    Throw in an Aeration and/or Power Raking and you have superceeded your investment after 18 months.

    Hope this helps Stone.
  5. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 1,277

    Thanks a ton !!!!!:blob3: :blob4: :blob1:
  6. dan deutekom

    dan deutekom LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 424

    Another alternative that is also costly and labour intensive for the first few years is to use Thyme. It grows well in dry sandy soil and in the direct sun. Smells nice when you walk on it too. The draw back is all of the hand weeding during the first couple of years while it establishes. Lots of different variaties and colours.
  7. dan deutekom

    dan deutekom LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 424

    Also Ajuga reptans would work as a ground cover instead of grass

    Have also tried the wild flower meadow thing. Always ends up looking like a weed patch espeacially after a couple of years. I have never had a client that was happy with this solution.
  8. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Posts: 1,625

    Wild flowers, after having done quite a few here are some hints,

    Prep, use a three cycle roundup program once early spring, then late spring, lastly do a mid summer kill.

    Grasses are the hardest to kill, you need to remove all the competition if you want a good wild flower stand. This is not easy if you figure dead lines with most commerical contracts, we make it known up front that it will not look right unless you follow above rules!

    Ground prep don't go discing up the top 6" all you'll do is raise more weed seeds that are in the soil* Till only 3" deep less if you can, you are just looking for a soft bed for your seeds.

    Seeding: The best seed jobs (large areas) are done with a Truax or Brillion seeder ( Brillion with the fluffly seed box not the standard blue grass box) your starting to talk some real money now! Last price I had on a Truax seeder was $15K it is hand built so I know it's not easy to afford. Hydroseeding is not recommed you don't get a good soil contact with the seed.

    Cover the seed with a hydro mulch or straw mulch, if you use straw make sure it's clean weed free straw not cheap stuff, remember all the work you put in to kill the weeds.

    Waiting: some seeds that you plant needs a heavy frost(northern seeds) before they can germinate some might need a fire before they start. We've planted some seed that takes 3-5 years before it grows.

    In the mean time:( you should kill any weeds that grow in your plot , don't pull them, one trick we have used is a heavy round up mix, put on rubber gloves, the kind that reach over your elbows then put on a pair of cotton work gloves soak these in the mix and hand wipe unwanted weeds that sprout.

    Watering; If you can you will help your seed grow by watering not like a lawn seed job but a light applaction of water every three days or so.

    I hope this helps some one:) Wild flowers are a pain to install but a well worked field sure looks nice!
  9. dan deutekom

    dan deutekom LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 424

    Hi Paul

    one of the problems I have run into with wild flowers is that after a couple of years, without reseeding every year, 1 variaty usually becomes dominant. (usually daisy) Also I have lousy luck in finding decent wildflower seed. I don't consider mullen, Queen Annes Lace or Sheppards purse wild flowers. The trouble is around here they seem to put this in the mix. (even listed on label)

    You are right. When it all works out it looks great but people don't seem to realize that it "just dosn't happen by itself" and that it takes a lot of upkeep to keep it good.

    BTW Is there a spell check on the posting board for us lousy spellers?
  10. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Posts: 1,625

    Maybe you need to find another seed supplier http://www.forester.net/ec.html this will get you to a mag called Erosion control it has some of the better seed suppliers in it

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