Separate Turf & Ornamentals

landscape photoDo you have trees growing right in the middle of your lawn? Do you swear under your breath every time you mow, having to trim around them and practice some fancy footwork trying to maneuver the mower around the trunk? If so, perhaps it's time to redesign your landscape, separating the grass and all of the other plants.
If you are building a new home, or moving to one with little or no landscaping, you can avoid this maintenance nightmare by simply thinking of turf as a part of the landscape unto itself. It should be uninterrupted by trees and plantings in the middle - for several reasons:

  1. Turf and ornamentals have different growing requirements. Lawns require much more fertilizer and water than flowers, trees, shrubs and groundcovers do.
  2. When turf and ornamentals are separated, a powerful landscape technique is utilized called mass/void, providing a mass of each component. This combination is quite beautiful.
  3. It makes maintenance of each much easier. It's easier to mow the lawn without having to trim around trees and shrubs.

All in all, this approach will make a big improvement in your landscape. As much as it is possible, strive to separate the turf from the ornamentals.

landscaped yard

Create Water Zones

Group ornamentals into H-M-L zones in the landscape:

  • Keep each distinct plant group by themselves: Set watering minutes per zone accordingly.

High – Need regular weekly or biweekly watering

Hybrid tea roses Acorus (Sweet Flag) Cephalanthus (Button)
Boxwood Flag Iris Salix (Willow)
Arborvitae Carex (Sedge) Helenium (Helen's Flower)
Ferns Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium) Lobelia


Mod – Plants that grow well with 25 inches of normal rainfall
Shrub roses Chelone (Pink Turtlehead Japanese Anemone
Blue Holly Oregon Grapeholly Ajuga (bugleweed)
Fothergilla Penstemon Plumbago
Coral Bells Astilbe Siberian Iris
Monkshood Allium (ornamental onion) Amsonia
Aquilegia (Columbine) Blackberry Lily Butterfly Milkweed
Campanula Cranesbill (Geranium) Lilies
Pladycodon (Balloon Flower) Phlox Veronica
Woods Pink Aster, Purple, Blue and Purpledome Aster


Lo – Plants grow well with no supplemental rainfall
Russian sage Yarrow Coneflower
Rudbeckia Echinacea Daylily
Prairie Dropseed Indiangrass Big Bluestem
Little Bluestem Blue Grama most Viburnums
Ninebark Aronia (Chokeberry) Autumn Fire Sedum
Maidengrass Salvia 'May Night' Agastache 'Blue Fortune'
Catmint – 'Walkers Low,' 'Joanna Reed', 'Little Titch', 'Six Hills Giant'


Information presented within the Lawn & Landscape Irrigation section of this Water Web site has been reviewed by University of Nebraska - Lincoln Educator John Fech.

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