I’ll be the first to admit that a lush, emerald green lawn is hard to ignore and if I didn’t have grass to cut I personally would be disappointed but taking care of all of that turf can be a time consuming and expensive proposition. Additionally, in areas of the country where a lack of rainfall is a problem, there are often restrictions on watering lawns so what’s a gardener to do under these circumstances? Actually, there are a significant number of potential alternatives to consider so I say “ditch the lawn mower” and give one of these suggestions a try:
1. Groundcovers are a great alternative to grass. Vinca Minor and Mondo grass are easy to maintain and they are evergreens so even in the winter you’ll have a “green lawn”. Ice Plant, Sedum, and Creeping Thyme are good choices in hot and dry conditions and they also have flowers as an added bonus. Clover, which we most often associate as being a weed, was once a popular plant for lawns in 15th and 16th century France and England. It is very adaptable to all types of soil conditions, is drought tolerant and helps attract and retain nitrogen in the soil. Even moss can be used as a replacement for grass in shady growing conditions.
2. You can substitute native grasses for turf grass. For example, UC Verde Buffalo Grass is becoming a popular alternative to turf grass in California as it is ideally suited for the sunny and dry conditions of a summer in California. It uses ¼ of the amount of water that a regular lawn does and it is very slow growing so that means having to mow it several times a year as opposed to every week. That’s not exactly ditching your lawn mower but it is pretty close!
3. Xeriscaping is a landscaping technique which involves reducing or eliminating the need for supplemental watering. This can involve the use of stone, rocks, and pebbles instead of turf and the strategic placement of ornamental grasses, cactus and native wildflowers and shrubs. Features such as dry creek beds or stone walkways are popular in this style of landscaping which is growing in popularity in areas prone to drought as well as the Southwestern part of the United States.
4. If too much water is a problem in your yard than growing grass can also be a challenge. Why not try a woodland style garden or installing a pond in a low lying area instead of grass. You might also try installing a rain garden which is a mixture of native grasses and wildflowers planted in areas which rainwater is prone to runoff and collect. Plants in a rain garden are suited to wet conditions and can include Sedge Grasses, Cardinal Flower also known as Lobelia and Black-Eyed Susans.
5. If you’re a golfer you can always install a synthetic putting green! These are actually getting to be very popular and you can actually purchase them at Home Depot and other similar retailers.
Some of you may already have gotten away from lawns in your yard. If you have done so why not share a picture of your landscape on our Facebook page to inspire the rest of us to “ditch the lawnmower”.