It’s been established several times here that—even though I love giving away trimmers and other equipment I'll never use—I have no
grass on my property except a few weeds that look like grass. But did you know
that I live in a nearly-grass-free neighborhood? Everyone on our street is affected—adversely—by a long double row of Norway maples (imposed by the city, and interspersed
by a few other types of tree). I was thinking about this the other day as I
walked down the street, and wondered if some of you might like to see a nearly grassless block. At top you see an atypical example—front yard as daisy farm. This
property has sun, because their tree came down in a storm. Later in the season,
it becomes a rudbeckia farm, accented with ornamental grasses in the back.
And here we have the stone/gravel option, with some side
plantings and a big Japanese maple providing most of the interest.
There are many, many variations of the ground cover as lawn
idea (above), using vinca, pachysandra, viola (it’s a weed we embrace on my
street), asperula, hedera, and others, accented by shrubs and such shade
perennials as hosta, astilbe, hosta, columbine, bergenia, hosta, ferns, epimedium,
As you also see here,
And here. The point is that for small properties with shade,
grass is often the least attractive or practical option. And many of these
ground covers get as close to maintenance-free as it is possible to get. They
require a small amount of hand weeding, and very little water. The majority of
my neighbors are not obsessive gardeners, and we have all learned to deal with
our shady, root-filled front spaces as best we can. In fact, it's become sort of a fun challenge.