No Mow Lawn and Garden Beds

douglasont(6 ON)April 1, 2013

No mow lawn and garden beds:
So IâÂÂm going to try not mowing my lawn and see what happens. I will pull the weeds and reseed in spots as needed. IâÂÂm comfortable with the meadow-look. How would you balance the look of sharply cut garden beds? Ring all the beds in rocks? Just not edge at all? Any tips?

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"How would you balance the look of sharply cut garden beds? Ring all the beds in rocks?" Can't really get a picture of what YOU mean by "sharply cut" garden beds. There are many lawn grasses and they have different looks, so can't envision what you will have. "Ring" all the beds in rocks" is a bad idea. Though with unmowed grass, they will probably not be seen, so then it's neutral. The unmowed lawn sounds like an idea sure to disappoint. There are probably plants other than grass that would satisfy your desire not to mow better than any lawn grasses could.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 9:36AM
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What is your lawn grass type? Probably doesn't matter about the shape of the garden beds, as you won't see them after a while. Do you have neighbours or HOA who'll complain, or are you on acreage where it doesn't matter? Snakes?

If you like the meadow look, throw around some seeds of local native grasses, wildflowers etc. May as well go the whole hog...

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 9:41AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Are you far enough west where meadow is a viable ecosystem, or are you going to be fighting a battle against forest succession without the best weapon?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 10:23AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I think you'd find you'll soon be losing your garden beds to grass invasion! See link below where it comments that 'Quackgrass can make up more than 90% of the biomass of an abandoned field' - essentially your lawn would become an abandoned field.... Why are you intending to go this route? Is there a better way to achieve whatever your goal is?

Here is a link that might be useful: couchgrass/quackgrass

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 10:47AM
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douglasont(6 ON)

No, I am in a major city on the great lakes so prairie plants/grasses may not be an option; however the lawn is full sun and dry.
I experimented with rarely mowing last year and due to dry weather and embracing the look of a long lawn I might have mowed 3 times in July and Aug (very dry). I was lucky and the look was fine. The front lawn is bordered by the neighbours drive on the north side (they rarely mow and have a 1 M dollar home) and my drive on the south side. It is a full sun lawn with a large perennial bed (drought tolerant plants) complete with a few ornamental trees as the focus.
The city doesnâÂÂt care about lawns here unless you are growing thistles and giant weeds. Despite being in a very affluent neighbourhood folks are mostly younger and embrace environmental initiatives and an alternative approach to traditional lawn care. (only 4 out of 18 houses paid for professional lawn care last year ��" I was watching!)
I have seen some long lawns and garden pics today on the internet and it seems the long blades of grass just flow into the sharply edged beds ��" looks fine. I guess I didn't pay enough attention to how that looked last year. Since my lawn and garden are full sun and dry I found I only have to cut these sharp edges right now in the spring and it lasts until next year.
I am going the no-mow lawn because I donâÂÂt want to mow, I think we fuss to much over lawns and I want to try something different. If it doesnâÂÂt work I will have the lawn removed next fall and hardscape most of it plus have some patches of pure no-mow grasses that I will grow from seed or from plugs. My neighbours who can afford a full lawn of these grasses are interested in seeing how this works if I go this route. (lots of research yet to do on this)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 1:20PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

What you seem to be considering cutting edge, environmental lawn care, is what I consider normal. Basically, state-of-the-art lawn care circa 1920. You mow when necessary, which in the summer can easily be once every 2-3-4- weeks. If you mow high, and leave the clippings on the lawn, and maybe throw some alfalfa around every now and then, you can actually have a lawn that will have the neighbors asking how you did that.

The problem with totally losing the lawn mower, is that mowing kills everything that isn't comfortable with being less than 4-5 inches tall. This includes things like trees, brambles, and other woody weeds that are the things that naturally grow in a neglected field in this part of the world. If they aren't getting whacked back by a blade periodically, and they aren't wanted taking over the whole former lawn, they have to be taken care of in some other way. The usual alternative is hand pulling. Depending on how large the area is, this may or may not be a sane solution.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 2:00PM
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Cultivated turf grasses and meadow grasses are two entirely different sets of plants. I'm not at all sure you are going to be happy with the look of a no-mow lawn - rather than meadow-like, it tends to just look neglected. Lawns that are not mown or are left too long also go to seed very easily and the seed blows in the wind and winds up in all the non-lawn areas.......and then you have just a weedy mess.

There are some alternatives but they do require some effort above the just not mowing. First, you will have to remove the existing lawn. Eco-lawn or eco turf is a low growing grass (and sometimes wildflower) blend that is very manageable in an urban setting. The grasses never get very tall so mowing is pretty much optional and you can have the added interest of the low growing wildflowers as well.

Most meadow grass blends also get rather tall and can become weedy in non-lawn areas with itheir seed dispersal. I could see this in a more private backyard setting but can't imagine it would look even remotely attractive in a front yard. Again, it just connotes a neglected, untended appearance.

If the eco-lawn type product doesn't work or is unavailable in your area, the other suggestion would be to use a combination of hardscaping and/or groundcovers in place of eth lawn.

Here is a link that might be useful: eco lawn

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 2:29PM
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