Tall Grass

April 3, 2013 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I have long thought about redoing a sizable percentage of my yard. Large swaths of green grass just aren’t for me, not to mention the fact that they are environmentally obnoxious. There have been a couple hurdles, though. What would I put there instead? Where will I find the time to do the transition work? How much will it cost, particularly since we have higher financial priorities right now?

I’m closer this year to resolving those issues than ever before. Inspired in part by Benjamin Vogt, I’m about ready to give my yard new life in the form of more natural (and hopefully lower-maintenance) plants and grasses. I don’t have a huge space to offer to the cause, but it’s a start.

I wonder if any of the rest of you have considered a similar change. Our ongoing drought and oppressive maintenance costs have forced Lincoln to make changes to the way it manages its greenspaces; it seems reasonable to think that property owners might take some of the same steps. Have you considered ditching the old Kentucky bluegrass in favor of tallgrass and milkweed? Would you consider such a thing?

When I do follow through on this I’ll be sure to take photos and document the process. Y’all may as well learn from all of the goofs I make along the way.

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The Comments

Sarah April 3, 2013 at 2:18pm

Lincoln’s Watershed Management department has added Lawn Reseeding to their grant options for property owners.

We had a rain garden installed last summer. I had Finke Gardens & Nursery draw up a landscape plan for the entire property—not just the rain garden. It will take a few years to implement the rest of the plan, but will greatly reduce the amount of “turf” we have. And we’ll hopefully replace that with a native grass, as well. (My guess is the city will recommend Buffalo Grass, but I could be wrong.)

Mr. Wilson April 3, 2013 at 3:19pm

How much did it cost to have Finke come out and do that?

CP April 3, 2013 at 3:30pm

I am in the same boat. I’ve always liked the idea of doing this, but when life and checkbook intersect it always loses to other pressing needs.

@Sarah - thanks for the links. The grant opportunity may push me towards acting.

Sarah April 3, 2013 at 3:34pm

A landscape plan is $150. It provides a suggested layout and shape of planted beds, location of plants, and comes with a plant list. You could have a professional plan drawn up and do all the planting yourself, and save money on plants at sales like UNL’s Spring Affair:  http://springaffair.unl.edu/

In 2012, both the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum and Community CROPS had plant sales in May. So keep an eye out for those!

We went with a contractor installation for our back yard, due to the availability of our own time, and the fact that the rain garden portion was eligible for 50% reimbursement through our grant. I expect to plant most of the remaining yard ourselves. (I’m happy to share the installation numbers, if you want, but only after I can round up a few details regarding the extent of the work we had done.) Hope this helps!

CP April 3, 2013 at 4:19pm

Great ideas. I put the Spring Affair on my calendar and it looks like the NSA sale is May 11.


Karin Dalziel April 3, 2013 at 5:14pm

I have been working at this somewhat slowly over three years - I’d planned to chip away at more and more of the yard, and then I got a dog so will likely end up keeping a little grass at least.

I could probably do with an actual professional plan so at least I am working towards something. My current method involves buying native plants, plopping them in the ground, and if they live I might look for more.

RJR April 4, 2013 at 2:45am

Community CROPS has a free workshop this Saturday on converting lawn to garden: http://www.communitycrops.org/workshops. I’m planning to start this year by moving my parking strip from weedy lawn to dwarf bluestem and xeriscaping plants.

Also, here’s another option for hiring local, organic landscaping: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dig-It-Landscapes/132047883527885

meatball April 4, 2013 at 4:53pm

It’s been 3 or 4 years ago, but Earl May did our plan for $100. Not sure if that’s still the going rate. Heck, they used to (in 2000 at my first house) do a plan for free with the hope that you’d buy at least some of the plants from them.

I’m with Karin—I really like having a plan. They know what looks good and will do well in a particular spot. And I can work toward the end goal as time and budget allow. My experience with Earl May was that they are willing to work with you to implement existing plants, and to understand the types of plants you like.

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