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'controlled prairie' as a low maintenance garden?

18 years ago

I want to plant an extremely low-maintenance garden for my parents, and I was wondering if a kind "controlled prairie" or grass garden would be the way to go. Ideally I'd like something they only need to hack down or burn once a year but looks great.

They have a large area of their back yard (200 ft x 20-30 ft) on a very steep slope by a lake. There's a seawall and it's dangerous to mow.

Basically what I would like to do is create a large grass garden or small controlled prairie for them. I would sheet mulch the area (in sections, a bit each year, starting with the steepest and most difficult to mow parts) plant large patches of mostly native and naturalized grasses (muhly, fountain grass, bluestems). I would interplant with perennial and some annual wildflowers for a prairie effect.

I THINK it would be low maintenance because it's almost always seen from a distance and so it would still look good without much weeding--especially if I plant it with wildflowers. What I don't want to end up with is grass with a lot of weeds peeking up through the tops.

It would border a lawn. Would the lawn take over? (I think there's Bermuda in it). Or would the clumping grasses hold their own once they're established? Will lawn weeds eventually take over? Or will a solid stand of grass usually shade them out?

They live in South Georgia (Zone 8). It is full sun, sandy soil, with some irrigation.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

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