Weeds – An Alternative Yard Cover

Q: I’m looking for weeds that will take over my yard and look like a lawn from the street. Yes, I actually want to sow weed seeds! We have a bright shady yard and have been unsuccessfully planting fescue in front for twelve years. Our un-maintained side yard has always maintained a thick cover of short vegetation that some might call weeds. Do you have suggestions for plant varieties and a source of seeds?

A: Nature always has a green plant in mind for any open spot. I’ll let you decide if they are weeds or not. You have several choices among cultivated plants and “weeds” that would thrive in your conditions. A top option would be to plant sprigs of mondo grass, best gotten from a neighbor who wants to divide a clump. This would give a grass-like, low maintenance lawn. For variety, you could plant ajuga, creeping Jenny, or green ‘n’ gold ‘Eco Lacquered Spider’. As for plants that are usually called weeds, I think wild violet, creeping Charlie, false strawberry, dichondra, and lawn pennywort would cover the ground in short order. For sources, look no further than neighbors who would be glad to get rid of these lawn invaders. If you don’t mind occasional irrigation, moss might make an acceptable ground cover. Shady conditions prevent any of these plants from tolerating much foot traffic, so plan stepping stone paths so you can enjoy your extremely low maintenance area. Send me pictures if you have success!