Grass Substitutes
From: Gretchen Westlight (
Date: Wed, 24 May 2000 17:12:27 -0600 (MDT)
Dear Friends -

The time is coming soon when Cascadia Commons (Portland, Oregon) will
transform from a mud/dirt-filled construction site into a lovely community
of homes (well, half a community anyway!).  We are making specific
decisions about implementing our landscape design, and I need some help.

One of the things I have always wanted was to not have grass in open
spaces at all, but instead to rely on low-growing ground covers such as
chamomile, creeping thyme, creeping oregono, sturdy mosses, etc.  My main
reason for this is that I HATE GRASS (partly for reasons that probably
won't affect Cascadia to such a great extent, such as fertilization and
watering, but also because it requires mowing and lots of care if you
don't want weeds like the prickly false dandelion to take over).  I also
have fond memories of a playing field at a local college where I used to
work that was planted with a combination of grass and the low-growing
chamomile.  As I saw it, the chamomile held up really well to hard use
(soccer, ultimate frisbee, etc.), and it smelled wonderful in the hot days
of summer.  I ate lunch there a lot, and was never troubled by bees
although they were evident.

I remember reading something on the list recently about (Wasatch Commons?) 
using creeping herbs in their grass pavers bordering the paved pathways,
but my question is specifically about using these alternatives to
traditional grass lawns for the open spaces.  Have any communtities out
there done this on a large scale, where the land gets a lot of foot
traffic?  What has your experience been?  How do they wear through the
years?  Specifically, could you please address the following concerns from
our committee who is handling this:

* Other plantings will be more expensive to put in.
* Other plantings mostly likely will need to be mowed.
* Other plantings will likely draw bees that may sting us when we walk 

Thanks much for your help!  Private replies are fine.  I will happily
share any information with others who are interested.

- Gretchen Westlight

gren [at]               Member of: Cascadia Commons Cohousing                         Portland, Oregon

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