Lawn alternatives

Asked May 10, 2017, 1:15 PM EDT

I am looking to replace our front lawn with a hardy, low maintenance alternative. I like the idea of using native plants and supporting pollinators. Can you recommend solutions that would be attractive and not elicit too much push back from neighbors? Also, this front yard has a large magnolia and medium size burr oak. Both trees are magnificent, so I am very concerned with how I can replace the current lawn without disturbing the root systems of these trees. Complicating matters is that the lawn has a noticeable dip near the center that I would like to level out a bit to improve drainage. Again, how do I do this with negatively affecting the roots of the existing trees? Thanks.

Winona County Minnesota

1 Response

Your question is too extensive to cover in detail in a single post. I'll give you some references and a few ideas.

First, a general reference on lawns:
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/turfgrass/
You will find alternative choices for lawns linked to in that reference.

Here is a link to information about native plantings:
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/landscaping/native-plants-for-sustainable-landscapes...

Although planting a lawn near your trees probably won't affect the tree, lawns do not do well under trees - they need a lot of sun. However, if you significantly raise the grade level within the root zone of the tree (I'm thinking about filling the low spot), you can compromise the health of the tree. Read here:
http://www.myminnesotawoods.umn.edu/2008/12/will-fill-kill/
https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/1995/7-14-1995/prot.html

If the low spot regularly fills with water, have you considered planting a rain garden there? Check here:
http://www.extension.umn.edu/environment/water/property-owners/rain-garden/
https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/landscaping/best-plants-for-tough-sites/docs/08464-...