It's Not Easy Being Green

Asked June 23, 2019, 11:17 AM EDT

Hello! In the spirit of Wild Ones and our township's encouragement of native plantings, we have naturalized our property. At the street, we primarily have crown vetch. Asters, goldenrod, and coneflower also grow there. We spray the grass which appears and weed the crown vetch areas of goldenrod and other plants. We keep our planting to an acceptable height by road commission rules. Despite approval of the road commission for our curbside planting, we have been mowed several times by mowing crews from the road commission. We commissioned some "Do Not Mow" signs from a couple artists and have put them in the area. A Master Gardener we know suggested we try buffalo grass, but I don't think it will grow well this far north and in a shaded area. The crown vetch thrives where it's sunny, but our shaded areas are less successful. The shaded area sometimes has lots of acorns on the ground. The whole planting gets plenty of salt plowed on it in the winter. We do not want to create what one of the founders of the Michigan Nature Association called an urban desert, otherwise known as a lawn. We don't even own a lawnmower but scythe the area in the fall. Do you have any suggestions for what we could plant in this location that is native, hardy, and won't invite mowing by the road commission? We know we're unconventional, but we're not ready to give up the fight yet. It's been almost 30 years that we've maintained a wild property, and we're the only property that has been mowed in our one-mile stretch of curbed roadway. We would value your advice on what we might do to continue being an example of native plantings in our community. Thank you! John Kreutzfeldt Flushing, Michigan

Genesee County Michigan

3 Responses

Hello I understand your problem. I have a friend who had a similar front yard which was deemed to be weedy and the weed police monitored it. My friend added structure to it by adding paths through the gardens. So, if you add structure to such gardens; adding paths; planting groups of plants such as Black-eyed Susans, cone flowers or/and coneflowers in groups, you can give some structure to the garden. There are a number of plants that work in the narrow strip along the road that make it look less weedy which is what the mowers see. Such plants that you can you use are: Pussyfoots ( Antonnaria dioica); winecups, Callirhoe involucrata, Sedum. (Sedum rupestre ‘Angellina’, Bearberry ( Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) for sun spots. For shade, try Epimedium or Spirea..


Thank you for your response. We'll keep the list of suggested plants for future consideration. Maybe if the road commission volunteers to replace the plants that they destroyed, they could have the list, too. HA!

We present people like you with a difficult challenge. We don't want a garden, and we don't want pathways. Basically, we just want to disappear in an area like nature intended. Deer, woodchucks, and rabbits present another challenge. Coneflower and black-eyed Susans are lucky to survive in their presence. Shade, salt, and acorns also create challenging conditions. We're looking forward to trying some of your suggestions in the shady area. Crown vetch isn't going to go away in the sunny area!

Thanks, again, for your expertise. It never hurts to have knowledge! Attached are some photos of how we try to disappear!

John and Kaye

Your garden looks wonderful. Thanks for the photos.