Tom's Blog

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Turning a lawn into open oak woodland

Our backyard is fairly small, which is good because we spend most of our time working on a 140 acre natural area. However, in her "spare" time Kathie has done a great job of "restoring" it.

Our backyard is best called an open oak woodland, because it has some reasonably mature white oaks. Because of the shade, lawn never did well, and after years of mowing, I finally convinced Kathie to convert it into a "forest floor". We had already planted woodland species around the edge of the lawn, so the logical step was to get rid of the lawn and extend the forest understory. The lawn fell easy prey to glyphosate, and by last November the ground was bare. A good mix of open oak woodland species was planted, and a narrow path was delineated with judicious use of wood chips.

Despite the June drought, everything has grown well, and we now have quite a colorful backyard. In addition to the bergamot and black-eyed Susans seen in the photo, other species include American bellflower, white and red baneberry, yellow and purple hyssop, purple milkweed, bottle brush grass, and a lot of other species.

A major attraction here is that there is no lawn to mow. Another feature is that there will be a continual progression of native species throughout the year.

This represented a lot of work for Kathie, but hopefully all that will be needed now is judicious hand weeding, and occasional planting of new species.

I was quite impressed by how effective glyphosate was in turning the lawn into bare soil. With the good shade that the herbaceous species create, we should have no problem in keeping grass from coming back.


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