As versatile as lawn grasses may be, there are many locations where they just won’t flourish. In general, a lawn needs at least 5 hours of sun each day, a large uninterrupted area, well-drained soil, and a relatively flat grade or slightly rolling topography. Slopes, shade, compacted soils, heavy foot traffic, and poor air circulation should prompt you to consider alternatives. Resist the temptation to try to make due with grass on a poor site. The chart below offers simple solutions for several common problems.
|Thin turf under shade trees||Plant shade-adapted groundcover or grasses|
|High-traffic areas||Install bluestone, flagstone, or other pavers|
|Moss or mildew in shady area||Remove turf and moss, plant shade-adapted perennials and add wood chip mulch. Consider removing or pruning nearby trees to allow more sunlight penetration. Test the soil to determine if the pH is a problem.|
|Grass on steep slope||Plant junipers, Hall’s honeysuckle, crown vetch, or other ornamentals on the slope|
A hell strip is an awkward area between the sidewalk and the street, surrounding your mailbox, or falling between your lawn and the neighbor’s driveway. Grasses grown in these areas are apt to become stressed by heat from the street and sidewalk, salt spray, and soil compaction from heavy traffic. They aren’t the right plant choice. Instead consider short ornamental grasses and heat tolerant perennials such as yarrow, junipers, fleeceflower, sedum, coreopsis, lilyturf, daylilies, and gazania.