The landscape was designed by local landscape architect Trish Beckjord. Features include a "no-mow" lawn mix that requires less to no mowing compared to a conventional lawn, and a native flower and grass prairie. Stormwater runoff from the driveway is diverted into the prairie through an area of rocks and wetland type plants; when it rains hard there is flowing water several inches deep running into and through the prairie.
The "no-mow" lawn seed was supplied by Prairie Nursery. We like the lawn since the ryegrass is fine and soft, and it has nice form when it gets a little longer and flops over. Based on my experience I have these suggestions if you want to have a lawn that you rarely mow:
- You MUST get rid of all the weeds before you seed. Prairie Nursery supplies directions for what to do. The problem is that mowing controls weeds too, and if you don't mow, and there are a lot of weeds, the weeds take over.
- Don't water and fertilize a lot (except as necessary when the lawn is getting established). If you do, it will grow faster than necessary
- I found it necessary to set our mower even higher than the highest setting in order to mow the lawn after a month or two of not mowing, otherwise too much grass was removed which was harmful.
- We did leave one section of our lawn completely unmowed for an entire year once. It was OK, although it did send up seedheads in early summer and got pretty thick after a while.
- I mow ours now, partly since I am not willing to use chemical weed control methods. I have started to use the corn gluten meal for pre-emergent weed control, and hand weeding. These methods combined should be enough to reduce mowing without having weeds take over.
A final thought about no-mow lawns is that a successful one is, unfortunately, pretty much
a monoculture. Frankly I am more impressed with a lawn such as my parents have, which is over 150 years old. It does have grass in it, but is mostly "weeds" - clovers and other things. It never gets brown since the weeds are very tough. And, their lawn has developed without a single drop of watering, or fertilizing. But, yes, mowing is what made it that way. Having said that, the no-mow lawn mix is a huge improvement over the usual bluegrass lawn kept up by chemical means.
The fruit trees were purchased from Southmeadow Fruit Gardens and Henry Leuthardt Nurseries. Leuthardt's had better quality, generally, and Southmeadow has more selection.
The varieties we have are (many but not all are described on Southmeadows website):
- Apples: Cox's Orange Pippen, Tompkins King, Kerry Pippen, Calville Blanc d'Hiver, Esopus Spitzenberg, Swaar, Mother, Lymans Large Summer, Ashmead's Kernel
- Pears: Magness, Seckel, Sheldon, Atlantic Queen
- Peaches: Belle of Georgia, Red Skin, Hale Haven
- Sweet Cherries: Stella, Schmidts Bigerreau
- Sour Cherries: Montmorency, Northstar
I recommend that anyone thinking about growing apple trees get a copy of "The Apple Grower" by Michael Phillips.
Our apples, sour cherries, and peach trees are just starting to produce; the pears and sweet cherries have not so far. I am learning about insect and disease control, and only use non-chemical methods. One of our biggest problems seems to be racoons and/or squirrels that climb up into the trees and get the fruit, particularly the peach trees.
These varieties produce very tasty fruit. Based on my limited results so far, of the apples, the Cox's Orange Pippen seems to have very good fruit and be relatively pest resistant (as compared to Ashmeads Kernel which for some reason seems to attract more bugs). The Esopus Spitzenberg and Kerry Pippen seems to also have a good balance of production and taste.
The Belle of Georgia peach is very good, and the peaches in general produce a lot. The Northstar Cherry is interesting in that it is a true dwarf, whereas all the other cherries are semi-dwarf. The Northstar has been producing heavily. Another cherry to check out (that we don't have) is the newly available Balaton Cherry, a Hungarian (Zolton, note) variety.
No-Mow Lawn, Prairie, and House
Apple - Calville Blanc d-Hiver
Stormwater Runoff Retention Area