How to Beautify Your Lawn
My practice of carving out chunks of lawn to plant flowers began in self-defense. I could not bear to have the crab apple tree on the front lawn banged, bruised, and beaten by the lawn mower one more time. So I surrounded the trunk with a defensive circle of silver-toned, furry lamb’s-ears. Suddenly, the other trees looked naked, and I decided that a tree isn’t fully dressed without a flowering petticoat.
Dressing the Trees
Ever since, I’ve been whittling away at the lawn, replacing large chunks around the bases of trees with strategically placed groundcovers. I choose low-growing shrubs, herbs, or perennials that spread over the ground, bloom, and suppress weeds. Wood chips might do the same, but they are nowhere near as attractive. I have to admit that groundcovers require a certain amount of work; despite the advertisements, there is no such thing as a no-maintenance solution. The soil around the plants needs to be weeded occasionally and replenished yearly with compost.
As for size, I make the tree’s petticoat at least equal to the spread of its canopy. If the tree is fast-growing, I make the circle a third larger—but never smaller. A shorter tree can be nicely dressed with a single type of plant repeated around its trunk. A larger tree can handle clusters of different plants weaving together into a more creative garden.