What native plants can make a lawn in Montreal?
August 14, 2007 9:27 AM   Subscribe

I have dirt in my front yard! Rather not grow (Kentucky blue) grass lawn this far north in Montreal. What's a native hearty plant that will serve a soft green bed?

My father has had success in Ontario replacing grass with white clover -- it's native to his habitat, so it requires zero maintenance (beyond the usual picking up litter or puppy muffins). Montreal's climate is a bit different than southern Ontario, so clover may not serve the same purpose.

The dirt itself is two 2m^2 patches in front of my building, which get a couple hours of direct sunlight in the morning and bright shade for the rest of the day.
posted by Mozai to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Up at Mount Royal cemetery they use some kind of thyme ground cover, I think, which both looks and smells nice.
posted by zadcat at 10:21 AM on August 14, 2007

Creeping thyme, maybe?
posted by 517 at 10:26 AM on August 14, 2007

Do you want to be able to walk on it, or just have green groundcover? Do you care if it's evergreen or deciduous? You're going to have to have a groundcover that tolerates shade, so I'd investigate woodland groundcovers. There aren't many you can successfully walk on, that happen to also be native and shade tolerant. Shade tolerant native grass and wildflower mixtures are probably your best bet if you want to walk on it.

PS. Thyme is not native to Montreal.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:01 AM on August 14, 2007

Well, Scotch and Irish moss are an amazing covering, but we had a little too much sun in this part of Seattle. They (I prefer the brighter green scotch) are the most beautiful ground cover I know of. In the spring they get these super tiny but very pungent flowers. I dream of a hillside covered with it ....
posted by skybolt at 11:23 AM on August 14, 2007

If you don't need to walk on these beds, Asarum canadense would work, but it gets to be 12 inches high sometimes. Viola labradorica would probably tolerate some foot traffic once established; it reseeds and is pretty hardcore for a violet (it grows all over one of my client's gravel walkways, and is impossible to get rid of). There may be other native anadian violets that work as well, but I'm most familiar with this one.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:29 AM on August 14, 2007

Canadian. I hate my keyboard sometimes.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:31 AM on August 14, 2007

I didn't know there was a Canadian version of wild ginger, nifty. Answers here lead me to a helpful webpage from the city of Ottawa. I think I'm on the right track now; thanks!
posted by Mozai at 12:23 PM on August 14, 2007

The quality of advice at gardenweb forums is pretty high. Find out what zone you're in first. I'm in Z5 and face the same problem.
posted by craniac at 12:27 PM on August 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

No-mow lawn seed mixes?
Or this one, whose site states that it's appropriate for your area?
posted by Kololo at 12:44 PM on August 14, 2007

posted by Blue Buddha at 12:52 PM on August 14, 2007

Here are some more links and testimonials to clover in Montreal. It would grow just fine.
posted by Blue Buddha at 12:57 PM on August 14, 2007

Not native, but my hard-packed Chicago front yard is covered in pachysandra. Naturalises, but not invasive. Stays green all winter. Meets the zero maintenance standard.
posted by nax at 7:27 PM on August 14, 2007

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