Zone 4 perineal plants for difficult large area

Asked May 15, 2018, 1:21 AM EDT

Would like some suggestions for a large area where grass won’t grow. It’s in front of my home by the alley way. Every year the snowplow comes through and bumps lots of gravel which kills all my grass. Every year I’ll lay new sod which always does out. It’s a sunny area approximately 50 feet long and 10 feet wide. I’m in zone 4. I can send a picture of area if that would help. I would appreciate any suggestions. I’m 66 and getting too old to lay 40 rolls of sod every year....

Winona County Minnesota

1 Response

That is a tough situation. Is the sod dying out in the same summer that you replaced it or is it just not returning after the winter? There could be a fair amount of road salt that the grass does not like in this area, as well. I'd suggest testing your soil so you know what you're working with and what would be needed to help plants grow. A soil test can be performed by sending a sample to the University of MN. Instructions for this can be found here: I'd also suggest looking at these resources below which provide a listing of plants that would do well in a boulevard setting, which sounds like this would be similar conditions to your site. There are both trees and perennials you can think about, depending on your preferences. Of note, on this list - the ribbon grass and, sometimes the Russian sage, can spread more than desired. You may also want to check with your city to see if there are any height rules for plantings near the street. Tree listing: Here are some other websites to help you generate ideas. I would also recommend doing a google search of images of 'boulevard gardens' to get ideas of what this could look like. The look can vary widely depending on plants chosen. After aiming for plants that are tolerant of your tough location, much of this will be dependent upon your preferences, and what kind of maintenance you are willing to do ongoing with this space.