Hi, I am in the process of clearing about a half acre of thorny bushes. I...

Asked December 12, 2014, 1:18 PM EST

Hi, I am in the process of clearing about a half acre of thorny bushes. I would like to plant some ground cover, possibly including wild flowers. I do not want lawn, but am willing to mow once or twice a year. I would appreciate some suggestions or references as I move forward on this project. I would prefer not to encourage deer. Thanks.

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

It is important to match the plants to the site. You did not mention if the area is in sun or shade. For full sun you can consider a meadow. See our publication "Establishing and Maintaining A Meadow" http://www.mdturfcouncil.org/admin/uploadfiles/tt-70.pdf
Preparation and removal of weeds is important. Often complete kill-back with a non-selective herbicide is done, and then repeated as weed seeds germinate again. A soil test would be beneficial as well. See our soil testing information which includes FAQ'S, a video, and publications HG 110 How to Take A soil Sample, and HG 110a Listing of Regional Soil Labs. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/soils/soil-testing
It would be a good idea to use native plants. Look at the link from Ernst Seed Company which has a nice selection of seed mixtures which can benefit birds and pollinators : http://www.ernstseed.com/

Shade - If the location is shady consider sowing a fine fescue grass seed such as creeping red fescue. This grass does not perform well under frequent foot traffic, does not tolerate wet areas, or high rates of nitrogen fertilizer. You should only have to mow several times a year. See our publication on Lawn Establishment and look at the site preparation steps. Best time to establish is mid August to mid-October. Second best time is early March through April. Begin with a soil test