No Mow Yards

What’s the appeal of a landscape that requires little-to-no mowing during the growing season?
Reducing turf grass lawns can help to diminish the use of fossil fuels in the form of fertilizer and gasoline, as well as the amount of water required to keep grass lush and verdant during summer dry spells.

Some locations are too shady, too dry, too rocky, too steep, too wet, etc. to maintain healthy turf grass.

The time you spend mowing could instead be spent gardening flowers, vegetables, and herbs, or enjoying a low-maintenance ground cover from the shade of your porch.

Short grass also has low stormwater retention rates, leading to stormwater run-off where other plants would more effectively capture the stormwater (and nutrients on site) to hydrate and feed your landscape.

If you want to be free from the weekly tedium of running a mower around in circles, here are some low or no-mow alternative plant options, featuring plants available at Fox Hill Gardens. Edging and borders are recommended to maintain clean lines and to prevent the spread of plants outside of the intended bed.

Ground Covers
Ground covers are low-growing, spreading herbaceous or woody plants that provide texture, color, sometimes flower and fruit, and general surface area coverage in lieu of turf grass. Depending on whether your site is sunny, partially shaded, or in deep shade, you can clump a variety of ground covers together with similar light and soil needs; or select your favorite and let it fill in.

Brass Buttons
Creeping Jenny
Bishop’s Weed
Hens and Chicks
Hot Tuna
Irish Moss
Lady’s Mantle
Creeping Phlox
Creeping Speedwell
Rock Cotoneaster
Scotch Heather
Creeping Juniper

Bishop’s Hat
Siberian Bugloss
Dwarf Goatsbeard
English Ivy
Allegheny Spurge
Lily of the Valley
Bethlehem Sage
Sweet Woodruff

Wild Ginger
Virginia Creeper
Barren Strawberry
Woodland Phlox

Low-Mow Grasses and Grass-Like Plants
Ornamental grasses can grow anywhere from one to several feet tall; periodic maintenance with a hedge trimmer, weed whacker, or lawn mower set on high may be desired to maintain a specific height. Some grasses benefit from an aggressive trimming every one to three years for robust re-growth.

Sweet Flat Ogon
Blue-Eyed Grass
Lily Turf
Big Blue Stem
Dune ‘Blue Dune’
Dwarf Maiden ‘Adagio’
Feather Reed ‘Avalanche’
Feather Reed ‘Elijah Blue’
Japanese ‘Blood Red Baron’
Japanese Forest ‘All Gold’
Japanese Forest ‘Aureola’
Northern Sea Oats
Purple Maiden
Switchgrass ‘Heavy Metal’
Switchgrass ‘Prairie Sky’

Taller Alternatives
We sell dozens of colorful herbaceous perennials for sun and shade that are appropriate for Pennsylvania’s climate. Our selection of shade plants in particular will light up and fill in bare batches of ground where turf grass may struggle to thrive.

Most ferns are adapted for shaded understory locations with well-drained, humusy soil. We offer a range of ferns including:
Alaska, Autumn Brilliance, Beech, Christmas, Cinnamon, Hay-Scented, Interrupted, Japanese Painted ‘Ghost’, Lady ‘Lady in Red’, Maidenhair, Male, New York, Ostrich, Royal, Sensitive, Toothed Wood Fern.
Hosta‘s fan-shaped leaves and centerpiece flowers come in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. We sell over fifty cultivars.
Astilbe provide soft plumes of brilliant flowers and showy foliage that can be massed for unparalleled effect. We sell more than thirty cultivars.
Coral bells can be massed to form an attractive groundcover, with more than twenty foliage and flower color-combinations to choose from at Fox Hill Gardens.

Herbs and Fruits
Some low-growing or vining herbs and fruits are appropriate as groundcovers in addition to being edible.

We sell several varieties of Raspberry including ‘Ann’, ‘Fall Gold’, ‘Heritage’, and ‘Polka’ that will spread as arching runners, which can be trained over trellising.
Lowbush Cranberry
Edible Strawberries spread by rhizomes and provide a simple groundcover with white flowers and delicious berries for 3-4 years, though strawberry plots are prone to disease over time and should be rotated. We sell both June-bearing and everbearing varieties such as ‘Honeoye’, ‘Seascape’, ‘Tristar’, and ‘Earliglow’.
Creeping Thyme

And don’t forget no-mow vegetable beds!
Vegetable fruits and foliage come in such an array of colors and forms that edible landscaping can be beautifully ornamental.

How to prepare your yard for its no-mow transformation?
Mature, established turfgrass can be tricky to kill. Several steps are required:
1. Remove live sod by skimming it off with a flat shovel, spray with herbicide, and/or thoroughly cover the desired bed space with a dark tarp for a few weeks to kill live grass and weaken the roots.
2. Rototill or hand turn the soil with a shovel, exposing any remaining roots and cutting up any existing live material.
3. Rake a soil amendment such as compost or additional topsoil into the aerated bed if needed to improve soil quality.
4. Plant or seed the bed with desired groundcovers, ornamental grasses, ferns, flowers, vegetables, herbs, and fruits.
5. Mulch any remaining exposed soil with 3″ of triple-ground, disease-free wood mulch, being careful not to choke plants with mulch.
6. You may have to handpull or weed out any stray grass or latent seedlings as the bed gets established.

Need help with the transition? Contact us for design and landscaping services.