Category Archives: Plants

06 Jan

Ideas for Lawn alternatives that aren’t turf grass

Flowering Lawn Alternative - mixture of native birdsfoot violet, clover, common violet, wild strawberry, and at least 4 other low growing flowering plants.

Flowering Lawn Alternative – mixture of native birdsfoot violet, clover, common violet, wild strawberry, and at least 4 other low growing flowering plants.

Turf grass is a popular choice for lawns, but it can be high maintenance and require a lot of water and resources to maintain. If you are looking for alternatives to turf grass for your lawn, here are a few options to consider:

  1. Native grasses: Native grasses are well-suited to your local climate and soil conditions and require minimal water and maintenance. They can provide a natural and attractive ground cover that is low maintenance and environmentally friendly.
  2. Groundcover plants: Groundcover plants, such as thyme, sedum, and creeping phlox, can provide a low-growing alternative to turf grass. They require minimal water and maintenance and can add color and texture to your landscape.
  3. Artificial grass: Artificial grass has come a long way in recent years and can provide a realistic and low-maintenance alternative to natural grass. It requires no watering or mowing, and it is durable enough to withstand heavy foot traffic.
  4. Clover: Clover is a low-growing ground cover that requires minimal water and maintenance. It is also nitrogen-fixing, meaning it can help to improve the soil quality in your lawn.
  5. Moss: Moss is a low-maintenance alternative to grass that requires minimal water and no mowing. It can provide a soft and verdant ground cover, especially in shaded areas where grass may struggle to grow.
Mixed lawn planting that supports butterflies such as this Buckeye Butterfly.

Mixed lawn planting that supports butterflies such as this Buckeye Butterfly.

Overall, there are many alternatives to turf grass that can provide a low-maintenance and attractive ground cover for your lawn. Whether you choose native grasses, groundcover plants, artificial grass, clover, or moss, there is an option that can work for your landscape and meet your specific needs and preferences.

Mazus Reptans between Stepping Stones can also be used as a lawn alternative.

Mazus Reptans between Stepping Stones can also be used as a lawn alternative.

 

08 Mar

Top 5 COLUMNAR TREES to plant for privacy.

Hi, I’m landscape architect Mary Deweese, principal of Acorn Landscapes in St. Louis Missouri.  I design gardens and landscapes and I’m frequently asked what trees are good in narrow spaces, to provide privacy without taking up a lot of lateral space.  This is a list of some of my most trusted columnar (tall and skinny) trees.  These all work well as a single specimen but they can all also be planted close together for a tall privacy screen hedge.

Click on the name of the plant to open a new window with detailed information and photos from the Missouri Botanical Garden, Washington University or other trusted source.

1. Kindred Spirit Oak - Quercus x warei ‘Nadler’ - a great narrow oak that only grows about 6′ wide but gets over 30′ tall.

2. Armstrong Red Maple Acer x Freemanii ‘Armstrong’ - this is one you see planted in many parkways and parking lots. You see them there because they are reliable in harsh conditions but have a great narrow form that not only provides privacy when planted close together in a row like a hedge, but stays narrow and upright as to not interfere with driveways and cars.

3. Shawnee Brave Bald Cypress - Taxodium distichum ‘Mickelson’ – I love the texture and shape of this cypress.  It looks like an evergreen but it sheds it’s needles in winter, hence the ‘bald’ part of it’s name.  Really does well if you have a wetter area.

4. Green Giant Arborvitae – Thuja ‘Green Giant’ – this is a wonderful screening evergreen that stays relatively slim.  It needs consistent moisture and mostly full sun for best performance.

5. Sky Tower Ginkgo – Ginkgo biloba ’JN9′ SKY TOWER - I love Ginkgo’s because of their unique leaf shape and bright yellow color.  This is a great columnar variety.  Ginkgo’s tend to be awkward or uneven looking when young (like an awkward teenage phase), but as they mature they become more regular and even shaped.

 

23 Feb

Top 10 Deer Resistant Plants for St. Louis Missouri

Hi, I’m landscape architect Mary Deweese, principal of Acorn Landscapes in St. Louis Missouri.  I design gardens and landscapes for people who live in places where deer eat EVERYTHING!  This is a list of some of my most trusted deer resistant plants.

Click on the name of the plant to open a new window with detailed information and photos from the Missouri Botanical Garden.  If you need some new Deer Resistant Plant inspiration for your yard, read on.

10.  Contorted Filbert - really cool form and winter interest.

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9. Allium – (picture above) – great perennial that likes sun and soil on the dry side.

8.  Forsythia – Native shrub that is almost indestructible.  Yellow spring blooms. It can be a little wild looking, so not the best for a star placement, better off to the side or back of your yard.

7.  Korean Boxwood – Evergreen that gives any landscape some structure and winter interest.

Caesars Brother Siberian Iris by Landscape Architect Acorn Landscapes in St Louis Missouri

6.  Siberian Iris – (Pictured Above ) Loves sunny wet areas, but can also take part shade…if you have a wet spot you want reliable deer resistant flowers, these are great.  They slowly spread and make great cut flowers.  Actually, all Iris are very deer resistant.  You can choose bearded Iris or even from several native iris species.

5.  Pennsylvania Sedge – Great Native shade groundcover.

4.  Lady Fern – Lovely texture for shade, foliage may decline if not watered during the later part of summer.

3.  Ornamental Grass – Most grasses are very deer resistant.  This is a common one seen in St. Louis.  This is great in sunny areas and they help in areas where soil erosion is an issue.

2.  Groundcover St. Johns Wort – Nice foliage texture spreading groundcover.  Comes in green or a bright chartreuse color.  Bonus yellow flowers sporadically in summer. (Shown in picture below, the groundcover in the foundation planting bed)

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1.  Blue Spruce – Lovely in full sun areas, the small ‘globe blue spruce’ variety is great for front foundation plantings. (‘Globe’ variety shown in picture above making nice foliage color contrast with the groundcover St. John’s Wort)

 

 

14 Mar

Why I’m not specifying Knock Out Roses anymore

I am no longer specifying knock out roses for commercial landscapes…or I should say, I am severely limiting their use. Yes, they are beautiful, but they have become so popular that their very popularity is putting them at risk. Over use in urban and suburban landscapes are putting not only the knockout roses at risk, but all other rose varieties at the same time.

I’m talking about rose rosette virus. I have noticed that the knockout roses in many commercial settings are hosts to the dreaded and incurable rose rosette virus. This disease first came to my attention back in about 2004 when a new municipal bed that had been planted with over 40 knockout roses had to be dug up and replanted. After that I kept my eye out for roses with rosette virus in commercial settings.

I started noticing them in A LOT of places, the McDonalds landscape near me, the supermarket parking lot, in the parking lot near my bank, at the entrances to subdivisions. Whenever possible I would notify the business and property managers of these businesses that it would be the responsible practice to have the infected roses removed ASAP and destroyed because the virus spreads easily through air borne mites, which endangers all the surrounding landscape roses. This means that the disease on the roses in one parking lot will spread to those in an adjacent commercial lot, and then on to the residential landscapes, etc.

Unfortunately, most commercial property managers do not seem to care or respond, even with repeated notifications of the rose virus over periods of years…yes, I said years! The roses just stay there looking sicker and sicker and more deformed, because, well, they aren’t dead…yet…and in fact, more and more roses were being planted in these very same areas. I even had a property manager tell me that they were in the process of planting hundreds more knock out roses. I suggested that maybe they should choose another species so they don’t invest so heavily in one type of plant in case the virus spread from their infected roses to their new roses, and the property manager just replied that they liked them, and the rose virus didn’t seem to kill them right away, so they were going to leave them in place, and plant more.
So, after having my own beautiful knockout rose hedge for almost 10 years, which is over 8 feet tall and gorgeous, but is also just 2 miles from this particular commercial complex, I am now scheduled to have them removed and burned…because guess what?!?!? They now have the rosette virus too.

I am also aware that even when some of these landscape maintenance crews remove the diseased roses, they are composting them instead of burning them, which compounds the problem even more, because that compost, which is usually then given to municipalities or sold to unsuspecting homeowners, is now contaminated with rose rosette virus. Most of the landscape maintenance crews I have asked about rosette virus don’t know what it is, or how to identify it, or how to properly dispose of diseased roses.
In conclusion, I believe the professional landscape designer should refrain from creating more commercial landscapes featuring knock out roses (or other shrub and landscape rose cultivars) to help curb the spread of this horrible horticultural menace, the rose rosette virus!

by Mary Francois Deweese – Landscape Architect and Founding Principle, Acorn Landscapes, St. Louis, Missouri

Knock Out Roses - Before Rose Rosette Virus

Knock Out Roses – Before Rose Rosette Virus

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