A lush, beautiful lawn is the envy of your neighbors, and every homeowner knows that it’s a challenging thing to maintain. In addition to watering and mowing, lawns need fertilizer, aerating, and plenty of TLC. One thing you may not have given much thought to when it comes to lawn maintenance is companion plants. The truth is, there’s a fine line between plants that are friends with your lawn and those that compete with it. In fact, some plants are so competitive they can push out your lawn all together. So what do you need to watch for when it comes to plants near your grass?
1. Trees with Shallow Roots
Many trees, even very commonly planted ones, have rather shallow root systems. The top six inches of most grass types are pivotal to the success of the grass. If tree roots begin competing for resources, one or the other will lose the battle. In addition to competing with resources, shallow-rooted trees often push roots through the ground. This can cause a tripping hazard for playing children or an unexpected obstacle for the lawn mower blade. Avoid shallow rooted varieties like the American Elm, White Ash, Poplar, Silver Maple, Chinese Tallow, Weeping Willow, and birch.
2. Water Seekers with Deep Roots
Trees and plants in your yard share water and nutrients. Some plants are equipped with the ability to dig deep for those resources. This can wreak havoc on your irrigation system when a root punctures the pipes to your sprinkler system or busts a pipe leading sewage away from your house. It’s best to keep deep water seekers away from your lawn. Examples include oak and citrus trees, boxwood and holly shrubs, and several of the trees listed above.
3. Trees that Shade the Grass
Although there are some drought-tolerant grasses on the market, one common characteristic of lawns is their love of direct sunlight. Problems occur when the grass gets too much shade, often from an overbearing tree. Select trees with a high canopy or one that allows filtered sunlight through the branches and leaves. Similarly, when selecting thick bushes for your yard, consider the position of the sun so that the lawn isn’t left in the dark all of the time.
4. Unrestrained Climbers
While flowering clematis looks great climbing up the side of the shed or the arbor in in your yard, climbing-type plants can cause problems for your yard, and you. During the growing season climbers shoot up at a swift rate. Unless you’re able to train the growing vine every day or two, it will get away from you. When this happens, they will take off in any direction they please. Hops, grapes, wisteria, and ivy are all examples of charming climbers that can invade your grass and entangle themselves in your lawn mower.
5. Other Invaders
Invasive plants have no respect for boundaries. They will climb over, crawl under, or leap to any space that allows them to spread their wings—or seed as it may be. Mint is one example of a plant that is best grown in pots. Left alone in a bed, it will expand its territory to your yard, or your neighbor’s yard. Bamboo is another bad choice for the backyard gardener. Even with its endearing qualities, bamboo with not help you make friends with the neighbors when it invades their space. Also watch out for any type of wildflower, even those that might seem content at first, like Hollyhock. One good wind to loosen the seeds will leave you plucking plants out of your lawn for years to come.
Choosing plants for your landscape requires a lot of planning in research. With consideration for your lawn, stay away from plants that produce too much shade, compete for the same resources, or create a mowing hazard and everyone should get along just fine.