Low Maintanance Meadow/Prairie Yard
I want to establish a low maintanance yard with lowest cost. Read books and it seems to me a meadow/prairie yard is the way to go. One reason is, it does not need mulch at beginning as ground cover does, another is, it just need mowing once a year.
I have a big front yard and I want to have the front section to be meadow, with middle some plants/bushes and lawn in the back. I am thinking of putting white clover as the meadow, it will look green and will have nice little flowers. The house is in the area that is very hot and dry in the summer (above 90 degrees). The clover is said to be drought tolerant, but I also heard that it needs water. Does anybody know with this climate condition, how much water is needed for the clover once it's established? How long time to establish it and how much water is needed during this time period?
I read quite some threads here trying to get rid of clover, but after I read this article, I really like clover. But if it is really that good, why I never see anybody has a clover yard?
Any other plants would you recommend for my goal?
I even mix in white cover seed in my bags of contractor mix,...
Red clover is also good for the dirt, but tends to grow taller than the white...
'course, I also consider anything I can push the lawnmower over, 'n it's green in June, as a Lawn....
How much water is required to maintain the clover lawn? Compare to grass?
Your neighbors, homeowners association, etc. going to let you build a front yard environment that is likely to go to seed? If you plant clover, all your neighbors are likely to have clover whether they like it or not. Nothing against clover in the right place. Part of my extended family are beekeepers and they plant clover amidst apple trees to yield really yummy honey.
How big a yard are we talking? Where exactly in the Bay Area? You mentioned temps above 90 so I am guessing you are toward Concord or up North of Sausalito? As you know, the climate changes rapidly as you get inland from the Coast.
Anyhow, check with your county and UofCalifornia extension folks for recommendations on native plants to incorporate into the landscape. In case you do not know, xeriscaping is the term for what you want to do and there are great ideas online and especially in the library under that topic. It is a great concept and I wish more people were into it. Basically it is about using native plants but in a tastefully landscape designed fashion.
Think also about incorporating drip irrigation in whatever you choose. Water is going to become a big deal in your part of the World (and really could tear your State in half politically) really soon. With drip you can keep your landscape going, water in gallons per hour instead of gallons per minute and put water only where you want it. It is much healthier for plants and better for soil management too. I started using it ages ago when still out your way and practicing landscape design during a major drought. I never stopped even when water was plentiful again.
If your yard is huge, you might look into hydroseeding. It is typically thought of in context of a great way to plant turfgrasses but you can use it with any bulk seed and California does for groundcovers on highway embankments and so forth. Hydroseeding involves mixing fertilizer, seed and a material that forms a mulch/crust in a slurry and spraying it on prepared soil. Seeds establish fast and there is no need to top dress or mulch manually. It sticks to slopes.
Good luck. Keep us posted!
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