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Native Lawn Alternatives

Kill Your Lawn!

There are various techniques for converting a lawn into a native planting. Some prefer sheet-mulching, others prefer solarization, while others are partial to herbicides (both organic and conventional). Whichever method you use, you'll still end up with the same result and that is a fresh bed to create a brand new native planting!

 

Spring is a great time to kill off sections of your lawn and transition it into a native garden. It is the perfect time to smother the lawn (and any weeds within it) as it emerges from dormancy, while the increasing temperatures also aid in both solarization and herbicide treatments.


While any lawn can be transitioned and planted out with any variety of native species, we decided to focus particularly on the front lawn. We feel there is no need to conceal this native plant movement to our back yards, especially when there are so many great native options for including with a Native Lawn Alternative. These plantings can be more traditional, including one or two grassy species that are formally mowed once or twice a year, or they can be diverse meadows of low-growing grasses, sedges, and wildflowers that will provide a myriad of ornamental colors and textures while being highly functional ecologically. Below, you will find our top recommendations for the latter, including species that remain under 2 feet tall, species that can handle foot-traffic, and those that can handle the blades of a mower - if you're into that sort of thing.


 

Grasses, Sedges, Rushes

"Sedges have edges, rushes are round, grasses have knees that bend to the ground."






Pennsylvania Sedge

(Carex pensylvanica)

Long Island Native, Great for Dry-Shade

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand

Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium

Sun Exposure: Partial, Shade

Height: 6" - 1'

Bloom Color: Green

Bloom Time: Apr, May, June

Spacing: 6" - 1'

Naturalizes via: Rhizomes

Benefits: Deer Resistant

Tolerates: Light Foot Traffic, Mowing



Short-beaked Sedge

(Carex brevior)

Long Island Native, Great for Dry Sun

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand

Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium, Medium-Wet

Sun Exposure: Sun-Part Shade

Height: 6" - 1'

Bloom Color: Green

Bloom Time: Apr, May

Spacing: 6" - 1'

Naturalizes via: Rhizomes

Benefits: Deer Resistant

Tolerates: Light Foot Traffic, Mowing



Bicknell's Sedge

(Carex bicknellii)

Long Island Native, Great for Dry Sun

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand

Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium, Medium-Wet

Sun Exposure: Sun-Part Shade

Height: 1'-3'

Bloom Color: Green

Bloom Time: May

Spacing: 6" - 1'

Naturalizes via: Rhizomes

Benefits: Deer Resistant

Tolerates: Light Foot Traffic, Mowing



Purple Love Grass

(Eragrostis spectabilis)

Long Island Native, Great for Dry Sun

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Rocky

Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium, Medium-Wet

Sun Exposure: Full Sun

Height: 1'-2'

Bloom Color: Red, Tan

Bloom Time: July, August

Spacing: 6" - 1'

Naturalizes via: Rhizomes

Benefits: Deer Resistant

Tolerates: Salt, Heavy Foot Traffic



Side-Oats Grama

(Bouteloua curtipendula)

Long Island Native, Great for Dry Sun

*Endangered within NYS

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand

Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium, Medium-Wet

Sun Exposure: Full Sun

Height: 1'-3'

Bloom Color: Green, Tan

Bloom Time: July

Spacing: 6" - 1'

Naturalizes via: Rhizomes

Benefits: Deer Resistant

Tolerates: Mowing, Black Walnut, Salt



Greene's Rush

(Juncus greenei)

Long Island Native, Great for Dry Sun

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand

Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium, Medium-Wet

Sun Exposure: Full Sun

Height: 1'-2'

Bloom Color: Green, Tan

Bloom Time: May-July

Spacing: 6" - 1'

Naturalizes via: Rhizomes

Benefits: Deer Resistant

Tolerates: Light Foot Traffic



Path Rush

(Juncus tenuis)

Long Island Native, Great for Sun

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand

Soil Moisture: Wet, Moist, Medium-Dry

Sun Exposure: Full Sun

Height: 6-24"

Bloom Color: Green, Tan

Bloom Time: June-August

Spacing: 6" - 1'

Naturalizes via: Rhizomes

Benefits: Deer Resistant

Tolerates: Heavy Foot Traffic



Buffalo Grass

(Bouteloua dactyloides)

Midwest Native, Relative of Sideoats Grama

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Clay

Soil Moisture: Medium, Dry

Sun Exposure: Full Sun

Height: 4-6"

Bloom Color: Green, Tan

Bloom Time: June-August

Spacing: 6" - 1'

Naturalizes via: Rhizomes, forms Turf

Benefits: Deer Resistant

Tolerates: Heavy Foot Traffic, Mowing



Red Fescue

(Festuca rubra)

Native to East & West Coasts

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Clay

Soil Moisture: Medium, Dry

Sun Exposure: Full Sun

Height: 1-2'

Bloom Color: Yellow, Red

Bloom Time: July

Spacing: 6" - 1'

Naturalizes via: Rhizomes, forms Turf

Benefits: Deer Resistant

Tolerates: Heavy Foot Traffic, Mowing



Northern Dropseed

(Sporobolus heterolepis)

NYS Native, Great for Dry Sun

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, San, Rocky

Soil Moisture: Medium, Dry

Sun Exposure: Full Sun

Height: 2-4'

Bloom Color: Green, Tan

Bloom Time: August-September

Spacing: 24"

Naturalizes via: Seed

Benefits: Deer Resistant

Tolerates: Drought, Wind

 

Flowering Perennials

"Love is the flower you've got to let grow..."




Birds Foot Violet

(Viola pedata)

Long Island Native, Great for Dry Sun

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Rocky

Soil Moisture: Medium, Dry

Sun Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade

Height: 3"

Bloom Color: Purple

Bloom Time: April, May, June

Spacing: 4-6"

Naturalizes via: Seeds

Benefits: Deer & Rabbit Resistant

Tolerates: Drought, Light Foot Traffic



Common Blue Violet

(Viola sorroria)

Long Island Native, Great for Dry Sun

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Clay

Soil Moisture: Moist, Dry

Sun Exposure: Part Shade

Height: 4-6"

Bloom Color: Purple

Bloom Time: April, May, June

Spacing: 6-8"

Naturalizes via: Rhizome, Seeds

Benefits: Deer & Rabbit Resistant

Tolerates: Drought, Light Foot Traffic



Field Pussytoes

(Antennaria neglecta)

Long Island Native, Great for Poor Soil

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Clay

Soil Moisture: Medium, Dry

Sun Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade

Height: 6-12"

Bloom Color: White

Bloom Time: April, May, June

Spacing: 6-8"

Naturalizes via: Rhizome, Seeds

Benefits: Deer & Rabbit Resistant

Tolerates: Drought, Light Foot Traffic



Beardtongues

(Penstemon hirsutus, Penstemon pallidus)

Long Island Natives

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Clay

Soil Moisture: Moist, Dry

Sun Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade

Height: 18"

Bloom Color: Purple

Bloom Time: May, June

Spacing: 10-12"

Naturalizes via: Rhizome, Seeds

Benefits: Deer & Rabbit Resistant

Tolerates: Salt, Drought



Maryland Golden Aster

(Chrysopsis mariana)

Long Island Native, Great for Dry Sun

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Rocky

Soil Moisture: Medium, Dy

Sun Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade

Height: 1-2.5'

Bloom Color: Yellow

Bloom Time: August-October

Spacing: 12"

Naturalizes via: Seeds

Benefits: Deer & Rabbit Resistant

Tolerates: Drought, Salt



Hyssop-leaved Boneset

(Eupatorium hyssopifolium)

Long Island Native, Great for Dry Sun

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Rocky

Soil Moisture: Moist, Dry

Sun Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade

Height: 1-2'

Bloom Color: White

Bloom Time: August-October

Spacing: 1-3'

Naturalizes via: Seeds

Benefits: Deer & Rabbit Resistant

Tolerates: Drought, Salt, Black Walnut



Forked Blue Curls

(Trichostema dichotomum)

Long Island Native, Great for Dry Sun

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Rocky

Soil Moisture: Medium, Dry

Sun Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade

Height: 12-24"

Bloom Color: Yellow

Bloom Time: August-October

Spacing: 12"

Naturalizes via: Seeds (Annual)

Benefits: Deer & Rabbit Resistant

Tolerates: Drought, Salt



Whorled Milkweed

(Asclepias verticillata)

Long Island Native, Great for Dry Sun

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Rocky

Soil Moisture: Medium, Dry

Sun Exposure: Full Sun

Height: 24-36"

Bloom Color: White

Bloom Time: June-September

Spacing: 12-24"

Naturalizes via: Seeds

Benefits: Deer & Rabbit Resistant

Tolerates: Drought, Salt



Wild Strawberries

(Fragaria vesca, Fragaria virginiana)

Long Island Natives

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Rocky, Clay

Soil Moisture: Medium, Dry

Sun Exposure: Full Sun - Part Shade

Height: 6"

Bloom Color: White

Bloom Time: April-May

Spacing: 12-24"

Naturalizes via: Seeds

Benefits: Deer & Rabbit Resistant

Tolerates: Drought, Salt, Erosion



Silver Rod

(Solidago bicolor)

Long Island Native, Great for dry sun!

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Clay

Soil Moisture: Medium, Moist

Sun Exposure: Full Sun, Shade

Height: 12-24"

Bloom Color: Yellow

Bloom Time: May-June

Spacing: 12"

Naturalizes via: Rhizomes, Seeds

Benefits: Deer & Rabbit Resistant

Tolerates: Drought, Erosion



Golden Groundsel

(Packera aurea)

Long Island Native, suppresses weeds!

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Clay

Soil Moisture: Medium, Moist

Sun Exposure: Full Sun - Shade

Height: 1-2'

Bloom Color: Yellow

Bloom Time: May-June

Spacing: 12-24"

Naturalizes via: Rhizomes, Seeds

Benefits: Deer & Rabbit Resistant

Tolerates: Drought, Erosion, Black Walnut



Stiff-leaved Aster

(Ionactus linariifolius)

Long Island Native, Great for Dry Sun

Long Island Native, suppresses weeds!

Cultural Details

Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Rocky

Soil Moisture: Medium, Dry

Sun Exposure: Full Sun - Partial Shade

Height: 12"

Bloom Color: Blue-Purple

Bloom Time: August-October

Spacing: 10-12"

Naturalizes via: Rhizomes, Seeds

Benefits: Deer & Rabbit Resistant

Tolerates: Drought, Erosion, Poor Soil

We Recommend Landscape Plugs for Lawn Conversions as they offer more plant material for your dollar. Look for these and many more native species that may be suitable for native lawn alternatives this year at our nursery.

Contact us today for more information.

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