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.