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Low Mow, No Mow Seed: A Rundown

Lots of people in the U.S. seem to be in the mood these days to be rid of their lawn, or at least some of it. We get loads of questions about conversions to vegetable gardens, or to wildflower meadows. The volume of those questions dwarfs in comparison, however, to the queries about so-called “low-mow” or “no-mow” mixes.

The idea of having a real, living lawn — as opposed to one of those plastic carpets — that doesn’t require ANY maintenance is a bit of a fantasy. “No-mow” is really a misnomer, because such a thing doesn’t exist. There are, however, grasses you can get away with cutting only three to four times a year. That’s what we’ll focus on here with a review of some proven companies and products:

LOW MOW GRASSES — I’m quite sure it’s accurate to credit Neil Diboll of Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin for coining this phrase. When I interviewed him for my book, he said he’d been selling his selection of low- and slow-growing fescues since 1994.

These days, High Country Gardens in New Mexico has risen to the forefront of the alternative lawn grass movement with a couple of different options. One is a “Low Work and Water” blend of fescues for Zones 4-10, which is the bulk of the nation. High Country’s own “No Mow” mix is specially formulated for colder, rainier areas of the country such as the Northeast. A 5-pound bag, enough for a 1,000 square foot lawn according to the company, is $30.

ECO-LAWN — A Canadian company known as Wildflower Farm has been selling Eco-Lawn grass seed for several years with its own proprietary blend of fine fescues. I’ve grown this and was impressed with the germination rates and lush stand. The 5-pound bag recommended for 1,000 square feet priced at $34.95. Wildflower Farm, which as the name would indicate also sells wildflower seeds, also sells a 50-pound bag covering 10,000 square feet for $299.50.

We plan to test Eco-Lawn and the No Mow selections side by side this year in a cost/performance comparison.

PEARL’S PREMIUM — This Northeast company has done a great job of public relations in the past two years and its blends for sun and shade are showing up everywhere. They package the seed in 5-, 25- and 50-pound bags at roughly the same price points as Wildflower Farm. We’ve never tried this product, but plan to investigate it in the coming year.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

Number of Entries : 1024
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  • Chloe

    Hello, It has been over a year since you posted this piece, thank you for doing so. I was wondering if you’ve had a chance to try .. no mow / eco-lawn / pearl’s premium .. I am facinated and so anxious to hear your opinion regarding each. I am elderly and have a small fenced patio with no room for a mower and physically unable to pick weeds but would so enjoy a lovely green lawn.

  • Arcane

    We installed a Pearl’s Premium lawn last fall over bare soil covered with an inch or more of organic compost, via hydroseeding, and so little came up that we fertilized again with kelp and over seeded in the spring. It is a disaster, now overrun with crabgrass, and we are going to rip it out and start over next month. I spent $900 for this seed, and the company doesn’t return calls or emails. Oh, and their other claim, that it rarely needs mowing, is crap too.

  • Arcane

    We installed a Pearl’s Premium lawn last fall over bare soil covered with an inch or more of organic compost, via hydroseeding, and so little came up that we fertilized again with kelp and over seeded in the spring. It is a disaster, now overrun with crabgrass, and we are going to rip it out and start over next month. I spent $900 for this seed, and the company doesn’t return calls or emails. Oh, and their other claim, that it rarely needs mowing, is crap too.

  • Ziilch

    I’d also say that its very hard to see any comparison reviews of the major no mow grass brands, it would be a good idea to investigate.

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