Where There Once Was Lawn


by Susan – The third report of a backyard makeover story that started with kill-the-lawn bravado andSteppablesbox375 continued with a border do-over.

Only after I’d redesigned the border did I turn
my attention to the open area that used to be lawn.  So let’s open up this shipment from Stepables and see what they sent!

  • 5 each of 4 different types of thyme
  • 5 Muehlenbeckia creeping wine vine
  • 5 Sedum Baby Tears
  • 4 Potentilla Nana
  • 5 Leptinella Platt’s Black
  • 5 Herniaria Green Carpet
  • 5 Azorella Emerald Cushion
  • 5 Ajuga Chocolate Chip that require shade, so were planted somewhere else.

Steppables375My two lovely assistants and I had great fun opening the package and laying out the goodies inside.  And the folks at Stepables know how to ship; I’ll say that.
But I have casualties to report already.  (I know – bad gardener!)  Only one of the four Azorellas survived the 6-week wait from delivery til planting was possible, probably because there wasn’t enough sun where I stored them.  My diagnosis: they couldn’t dry out enough between my (probably too frequent) waterings.  But I decided to plant the last one just to see how it does cause
I’m trialing here!

As you can see from the next photo, there was still plenty of bare ground
after the Stepables were planted, so I’ve moved gobs of creeping
sedum from where there’s too much.  And I was GOING to try out a couple
of clover types but discovered they need to be planted in the
spring.  I also learned that the red clover I was dead set on buying is
advertised as – get this – food for deer.  Oh, just what
I need now that my town is overrun with them and we’re all giving our
hostas away.  Anyway, in the spring I might still remove some
of the creeping sedum and plant some clover – for lots of good reasons, including nitrogen-fixing and feeding the bees.  Meanwhile, I’m giving Eco-Lawn a try, too.

Now we all know that gardens look sparse until they fill
in but truth-to-tell, I’ve been known to give up onAfterfromdeck375_2 plants before they’ve had a chance to really show me their stuff.  I’ve mended my ways, however, because I’m holding myself out as a gardening teacher and I don’t want to be exposed as a total hypocrite.  But impatience is still a cross I bear and my first
impulse with this lawn reduction project is to fill it back in with turfgrass – ASAP.   The rationalization goes:  The whole project
wouldn’t be for naught because I’ve fixed the grade and improved the soil a bit and mulched. 

Well, what would YOU do with this newly deturfed 500-square-foot space in full sun, on a hill? Plant taller things where the lawn was?  I admit that
design-wise, it would be great to fill the former-lawn with
shrubs like Jean in Buffalo – but I’m trying to keep it open enough to swing the
garden hose across it without catching on anything.  Is that a silly reason?  How much would it cost, I wonder, to have a water line
dug across the lawn and available via a handy spigot in the woods?
I’ve always lusted after a more convenient water source than the ones
right at the house and now that I’m ham-stringing the whole garden
design by this garden hose problem, I’ve gotta reassess.


  1. Hi Susan,

    Does the garden dead end where you replaced the lawn with groundcover? From the photo, it seems to be a great area to lay some flagstone down, fill the crevices with the groundcover and add some chairs for closeup garden viewing.
    Adding the flagstone automatically covers a lot of bare area and renders the spot useful and beautiful. Good luck!

  2. Susan:

    Instead of spending a fortune on a plumber, just get another hose (or two) and/or some 3/4″ or 1″ pvc and necessary male/female adapters.

    You can bury the hose and/or pvc under mulch along the edge of the garden and run it to wherever you need it.

    Then, using a couple of small lengths of hose or pipe (you can cut the hose to any length you need, 5′, 10′, 13.876′, etc. and add new adapters at either end), you can get water to wherever you need it whenever you need it – instead of dragging around a fifty foot length of hose filled with water!

    Then, at the end of the season, simply gather it up and store it.

    Of course . . . . . . . . ., if you put the right plant in the right place to begin with . . . . !

  3. Hi Susan,
    I can’t believe that you are such an impatient gardener!! It’s Fall so all your little plants will just about have time to get rooted before shut-down. Next summer, if my experience of thyme is anything to go by, they will all grow and spread and spread. What is more by next Fall you will be able to take snippets of thyme, and probably the other plants, and start filling in the holes. Rome wasn’t built in a day you know – gardens are always next year country.

  4. Jean actually has lots of little paths that would be ideal for some soaker hoses or drip irrigation equipment. or whatever fancier stuff there is that I don’t know about!

  5. Susan, I’m with Shirley. I put down a flagstone path on a recently cleared area and it covers lots of bare ground (and looks really nice). On the other hand, you could just wait, as others recommend. I recently had to extend a bed because I had made it too small. It won’t take long for the plants to fill in.

  6. Susan,

    Terry is spot on with burying a hose with occasional taps where you need them. Though I would use brass “Y’s” instead of plastic fittings. If you use a quality rubber hose you can even leave it in place for the winter as long as you open all the valves for the winter so the water inside can expand and contract with the cold. It should last for at least several years.

    During my Alaska years I had over an acre to play with… and I had rubber hoses that survived over a decade running up to the “meadow” and “orchid bog”. I used 3/4 inch rubber hoses buried just a few inches or just covered with mulch.

    Good luck and happy planting!

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