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Lawn Alternatives

January 02 2010 | Ocean Friendly Gardens,
by Paul Herzog

(From the Ocean Friendly Gardens book)

Lawns are notoriously bad for the ocean - not only do they require a lot of water, but the runoff they produce is loaded with fertilizers and herbicides. Instead of a lawn, consider these attractive alternatives:

 

Legend: A = Aggressive; E = Erosion Controlling and good for small slopes; W = Water Conserving Trailing, Rooting, and Perennial Ground Covers.

Botanical Name Common Name Notes and Needs
Abronia spp. Sand verbena >Native. E W
Achillea ageratifolia, A. clavennae, A. tomentosa Greek yarrow, silvery yarrow, woolly yarrow A. clavennae is lowest growing. W
Aster chilensis Wild aster Coastal native. W
Aurinia saxatilis Basket-of-gold Can tolerate light shade. OK with poor soil. W
Cerastium tomentosum Snow-in-summer Sometimes short-lived. W
Chamaemelum nobile Chamomile Tough. Can tolerate some shade. Not the true herb chamomile. W
Convolvulus mauritanicus Ground morning glory Good companion plant with yellow gazania. W
Coreopsis auriculata "Nana" Tickseed Wonderful with dwarf plumbago.W
Duchesnea indica Indian Mock Strawberry Can be invasive if well watered and fed. A
Dymondia margaretae Dymondia Tough. Tolerates traffic. W
Erigeron spp. Fleabane Some native. Compliments gazania and thyme. W
Erodium reichardii Cranesbill Tough. Can tolerate some shade.
Festuca californica, F. rubra California fescue, Creeping red fescue Native is drought tolerant in cool summer areas. Does not grow well in poor soils. A E
Fragaria chiloensis, F. californica Wild strawberry, sand strawberry Native. Cut back annually. Sun and shade. W
Gazania hybrids Trailing gazania Reliable and aggressive in soils in fair condition. W
Geranium spp. Cranesbill Some native. Tough. Some drought tolerant.
Herniaria glabra Rupture Wort Low mat that can grow in filtered shade too.
Lychnis coronaria Crown-pink, dusty miller Tough, and surprisingly, can tolerate some traffic. W
Oenothera hookeri Hooker's evening primrose Native and tough. Can be invasive. A W
Osteospermum fruticosum African daisy, freeway daisy Tolerates heat. Sometimes short-lived. Cut back old growth. E, W
Phyla nodiflora Lippia Tough. Can tolerate some traffic. Purple/pink flowers. W
Pelargonium peltatum Ivy geranium Dependable color. People friendly foliage. E
Potentilla neumanniana, P. x tonguei Cinquefoil Tough and versatile. Can tolerate some shade.
Sagina subulta Irish and Scotch moss Tough. Takes foot traffic. Can tolerate shade.
Stachys byzantina Lamb's ears Can be tough and tolerate a little traffic. OK up to filtered shade.
Thyme spp. Thyme A number of low growing, durable species. W
Trifolium spp. Strawberry and White Clover If maintained, it is tough. Able to fixate nitrogen, good companion plant. E W
Tropaeolum spp. Nasturtium Can naturalize. Needs to be cut back annually. A
Verbena peruviana, V. pulchella gracilior, V. tenuisecta Verbena, moss verbena Good combination with Oenothera. Cut back every two years. W
Veronica spp. Veronica, speedwell There is a species for every garden.
Zauschneria septentrionalis Humboldt County Fuchsia Native that can grow into a dense mat.
Zoysia spp. Zoysia Dense and durable. Good for traffic.
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