Backyard: Groundcovers Are Better Than Grass

Hoarding the groundcover —

Before I had a house and yard of my own, I always thought grass just came up by default when you didn’t plant something interesting. Who knew it had to be planted (every year) and fertilized (twice a year) and watered (constantly) and have chemicals dumped on it to discourage weeds (often). To my surprise, and I think to his too, Bob liked the grass. Maybe the stereotypes are right, and it really is a guy thing. After Bob’s death, I tried taking care of the grass. I felt guilty when I couldn’t keep it going, but it was too much for me. Now I’ve eliminated it.

We’ve had drought years here, and watering was forbidden. I did replant like Bob taught me to, but I always ended up with dead grass. Through it all there was a little bed of ajuga (bugle weed) off to the side that stayed green. I tried replanting grass through three years of drought. Without constant watering it didn’t survive, but wait… when the rain finally came, little shoots of ajuga came up everywhere. Through those dry years, it was colonizing. I decided that if the ajuga survived, it should be encouraged. Instead of planting grass, I planted white clover where the ajuga hadn’t filled in yet, to hold the soil and return some nitrogen. Last summer, there was enough groundcover for me to stop mowing.

ajuga groundcover in back yard

Here’s the backyard now…

The newer patches still need some weeding, but they won’t for long. And it’s worth it — it’s attractive when it blooms, it appears to hold the soil well, and I’ll mow only once a year, after the bloom stems dry. It’s a healthier ecosystem too. I did a little weed patrol this morning, using Bob’s old dandelion digger. I was happy to see earthworms slithering through the lower stems and bees visiting the flowers. I’m leaving the black-eyed susans and the hellebores that come up from seed, but digging out any weeds, strawberries, or liriope that pops up.

close up of ajuga groundcover, some blossoms purple and some white

Ajuga. Most blooms are purple but these surprised me by coming up white.

Now there’s just one more advantage that I haven’t mentioned.  Care for a little luck, anyone?

4 leaf clover and white clover bloom

3 thoughts on “Backyard: Groundcovers Are Better Than Grass

  1. Pingback: Working Toward a More Sustainable Yard, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture | Hoarder Comes Clean

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