Reduce mowing - smart landscaping

My park is spread over 19 acres so there are plenty of areas needing mowing to look good. Any ideas to reduce that grass? I’ve been thinking of bushes and other ideas. Even blackberry bushes which grow like a cancer. Ideally, I’d like to plant something that looks decent and covers up significant grassy areas to simplify the maint costs. I could also let certain areas with grass to go wild. I’ve never used a landscape designer before. Any tips on how I might approach the issue objectively and realistically?

One person outside the forum suggested Leyand Cypress trees. I’ve got a lot of visible grassy areas along side the road across 19 acres. I would like to block visibility to that grass so I don’t have to mow it.

Goats.Seriously, I see them all over the place here in Northern California. I always laugh and wished my properties were big enough to let them graze.

Love the idea Mike but have you ever been attacked by a goat? They can give you a good beating.Liability is an issue plus the turds.

That’s a great issue to brainstorm, as many park owners are faced with this issue. I’ve leased grass land to farmers to graze cattle on it – but it was their cattle and I had nothing to do with it. In my case, the land was already fenced, but you’d have to fence it to accomplish a lease like that. Virtually no money in that lease, but it does eliminate the mowing and, frankly, having cows around is kind of cool to many tenants.You need to probably figure out the laws in your area on these grasslands. In some areas, you are allowed to let them free grow, and the mowing is strictly for your benefit but not a law. If this is the case, you might be able to simply build a visual hedge and let it all grow wild.

To avoid the goat liability trap, you might go down to your local farmer’s market and talk to some farmers.  There may an opportunity to let someone use the land to grow some boxwoods, christmas trees, or crops of some sort.  There is a park pretty close to my house where the owner grows pumpkins on his vacant land.  Gives his park an interesting look in the fall and the residents seem to like the uniqueness of it.  

Chuckee, if some of the grassy areas are away from the Mobile Homes, you could plant Long Leaf Pine Trees (if they grow in your area and soil…in the South in sandy soil) in rows.The Long Leaf Pine Trees would provide pine straw that you could sell to others or use in your Mobile Home Park around large trees.I like the suggestion of Leland Cypress Trees and Christmas Trees.  Whatever you select to plant, make sure that you plant them in straight rows.  We wish you the very best!

If you grow certain trees like lodgepole and loblolly pine, you can get a saleable crop in as little as 11 years.  You buy the trees as bare root or sapling trees from your state tree nursery.  Many states have these, both Ohio and Missouri do as I did research once on this.  They are generally less than a buck each, yes one dollar, and are easy to plant.  Ohio says they grow 5 billion board feet a year (all species) while harvesting 4 billion each year.  Hardwoods are a different story, requiring 50 to 100 years.  But they are often saleable by the individual tree; oak, cherry, walnut are common trees grown.  Standing timber is personal property, so even after you sell the property you can have the trees harvested provided it’s spelled out in the sale contract.Last thought: if there is a college in your area with a real estate development class you can take a plot plan of your property there and they may be able to do a study to determine what the highest and best use is for your unused land.Ok, one more last thought: how about community garden plots?  The City of Orange (CA) has one and we are considering doing one at my church, also in Orange.  They are very popular.  Nevertheless, please let the forum know what you finally do.Jim Allen

Love the concept of community gardens. I have one tenant that has a great garden, she cans and gives away a lot to other tenants. Her preserving reduces her grocery bill which gives her more $ to pay me, which I am 100% in favor of. If there’s not much trash that blows over (or even if there is) consider leasing it out for hay ground if you have large chunks of it. Here in the Illinois it’s so much more profitable to grow corn/beans many guys have turned over their hay fields into row crops, driving up the price of hay and making it a bit more profitable again for those who didn’t plow theirs under. And still our hay is cheap compared to coastal areas. Expect them to mow up to 4x/yr depending on your climate. Depending on what they plant there, they probably won’t even let it get over a foot high for the first cutting especially if they are aiming for horse hay vs. cow hay. 

I also agree with Jim Allen concerning growing:-  Loblolly PinesIf Loblolly Pines grow in your area, you can plant and harvest pine trees for profit.We grow Loblolly Pines on some acreage that we have and harvest the Pines.  In South Carolina the State will actually help you pay to plant Loblolly Pines.  They just reimburse you a certain amount.We have purchased and planted both bareroot Pines and containerized Seedlings from the South Carolina Forestry Commission.My Husband even took multiple classes on Timber Harvest (ie…spacing of Timber, number of trees to plant, best soil).The Timber market is just like any other crop…it just takes longer for the Pines to mature.I also wanted to suggest growing Wildflowers or Sunflowers in the grassy areas.  Our state plants a lot of Wildflowers along the sides of the Interstate.  They are very pretty.We wish you the very best! 

Forget the timber idea. You don’t have enough acreage to make it really attractive from a timber standpoint. Most places in the south will only render pulpwood after 15 years of growing a Loblolly plantation. A modern logging operation consist oficina about a $1M worth of equipment on site for harvest. You will not have the economy of scale unless you plant the entire acreage in pines. Forget hardwoods too as they grow even slower, and you still have the economy of scale issue. Long leaf are hard to get started and tend to get stuck in the grass stage for several years. You are looking at about 10 years before star harvest could be considered. Pecan trees might be considered IF you have a pecan processor nearby you could sell the crop to. You don’t want to mess with it yourself. Over 20 years experience as a registered Forester practicing in the SE. I know what I am talking about on this. Something I would consider is the following. I once had a friend that managed a loblolly pine seed orchard. Picture wide spaced pines being grown to make a big crown to maximize seed production with bahaia (sp) grass. He would spray the orchard grass with I think a 0.01% solution of Round Up with no added surfactants over the grass after the seasons first cutting. It would tinge the grass yellow for a couple of weeks but it put the grass almost in a suspended animation. Only had to cut about each six weeks. Try different light mixtures on test strips to see the effect and to dail in your mixture strength. My long winded 2 cents.

Just want to say, thanks folks for the brainstorming – some great ideas here.The original poster mentioned planting shrubs or bushes.  My two cents – it is a lot easier to clear a field that is overgrown with grass and weeds than a field that is overgrown with brush and brambles.  We use a guy with a “Bush Hog” (?) once a year or so to mow down a large undeveloped parcel we own, but that is in a dry climate of West Texas where the grass doesn’t really grow too well.Brandon@Sandell

Yea, good conversation. I’m all about making money but am more concerned with saving money/time in this case. Not mowing a significant amount of that grass reduces maint costs and my management of that function. I think I’m going to give some of the tree ideas a shot.I love the goat idea other than it attacking people. Are goats smart enough to respond to the invisible fence (shock collar) solution?

We rent about 15 extra acres to a part time farmer who grows and cuts grass for hay. Works out great - we make a small income and don’t have to mow those extra acres.

Bret, I’m guessing the hay has to grow out? That’s part of the problem. It looks like crap and ruins curb side appeal during the grow process. I’m trying to eliminate the grass (illegal to create more impervious surface so can’t use gravel). I think trees/bushes is probably the way to go. Those Leyland Cypress trees grow up to 3 ft per year. I’m going to price out some solutions. Thought more on the goat idea. Too dangerous. If that goat ran into the road (I have highway access), my commercial liability insurance would be footing those bills.

I don’t live in your area but native trees, plants and tall grasses are always the way to go.  If you area is not so much in to that…I suggest you go to the ladybird wildflower center website and they break down native plants in each region of the country.  Natives take less water, have less issues such as disease and reduce your cost to mow.  Hope that helps.