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Lawn Substitutes

Q.I’m Looking For A Low-maintenance Alternative To A Grass Lawn, But None Of The Popular Lawn Substutites Are Suitable. Please Advi

Zone Studley, Warwickshire, UK | Anonymous added on June 4, 2021 | Answered

se! Hi there! I realise that the question I’m about to ask is probably quite unusual, and you may or may not be able to help me with it, but I’ve been trawling the internet for hours and haven’t been able to find the information I need. To cut a very long story as short as possible, I’m a disabled person who is honestly sick to death of struggling to maintain his grass lawn and would very much like to replace it with a bee-friendly alternative, but all of the most popular lawn substitutes like chamomile and Heath Pearlwort are likely to die off if my dog toilets on them. This is obviously not ideal, and I had considered replacing my lawn with a mix of wild white and red clover, but I’m told that these die off in the winter and that I’ll be left with a very bald garden until they perk up again in the spring. I decided that the best thing I could probably do is look up other common lawn weeds in the hope of finding something hardy and native that might better suit my needs, and after much searching, I’ve come across Slender Speedwell (Veronica filiformis). I’m told that it is drought resistant and evergreen, and that it forms a nice, thick mat that never grows more than a few inches high and will be full of flowers in the summer months. This sounds like an excellent replacement for high-maintenance grass! A mix of this and some clover would be absolutely delightful. I would really like to know more, but I’m having a hard time finding any relevant information, given that every website I find while I’m trying to get the answers I need has very little to tell me beyond “IT’S A WEED!!!1!” and that I should kill it immediately. These are not the answers to the questions I have! I’m honestly becoming more than a little frustrated at the bizarre obsession of popular lawn culture with completely and utterly banishing nature from the garden, and so I’m here, writing to you. Maybe you can tell me what I need to know about Slender Speedwell. Firstly, what does it look like in winter? I’ve read that it is “evergreen”, but does that mean it will maintain a healthy mat over the winter months? Will it die if my dog toilets on it? My current lawn is full of “dog spots”, and I would really like for that not to be the case anymore. Will it tolerate being mixed with clover, or is the clover likely to outcompete it and leave me with a bald garden come autumn? Would it be better to plant the Speedwell by itself? Is it likely to keep the other, larger lawn weeds that I would prefer not to see in check? We have a lot of dandelions here, and as much as I appreciate them, they’re too big to be in my lawn. Daisies and buttercups would be fine, though. Do bees like it? If this is a bad idea, why? I’m going to need more detailed information than “IT’S A WEED”. If you’re able to answer any of these questions, I would be extremely grateful! Alternatively, if you have any information on lawn alternatives that would require greatly reduced care over a grass monoculture lawn – and that my dog can also enjoy! – then I would absolutely love to hear about them. Many thanks for your time and expertise. Kind regards.

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on June 11, 2021

Your neighbors may not be too happy if you plant speedwell. It undoubtedly will get into their lawns. Also, dog urine is not as damaging in the lawn as people think. Here's some info that should help.


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