Unless you’re a sheep farmer, there’s just no need for all that grass. Are you spending fistfuls of money and a good deal of your precious Saturday mowing the lawn like a chump? Well, stop that. Lawns are really lovely and green and great and all, but they use an enormous amount of water, gasoline, fertilizer and your sweet time. The US alone uses 800 million gallons of gas a year to mow lawns and that accounts for a whopping 5% of greenhouse gas emissions. Garden like a champ by considering an alternative lawn, reducing the amount of lawn you have or doing something useful with all that space. Here are some alternatives to the traditional lawn that will have you thinking twice about your patch of green.
Switch your traditional lawn for a perennial ground cover. Ground covers use less water, require less maintenance and don’t need to be mowed. Find a ground cover that suits your needs. A really popular choice at the moment is microclover which spreads fast, looks great and flowers too. Opt for other hardy perennials such as dwarf dogwood, alyssum, tapien (verbena), sweet woodruff, and cotoneaster. You can also plant herbs like juniper, thyme, chamomile, and oregano which make for luscious, fragrant carpets.
Down the garden path
If you simply must have a lawn, then at the very least reduce the amount of lawn you have. Create interesting features in your garden with garden paths and beds with perennial shrubs. Garden paths can be constructed from just about anything. Some inexpensive options include stepping stones, stones, wood and pebbles. You can make your own stepping stones for unique and interesting pieces that also save you cash.
Garden ponds also make for fun features that take up lawn real estate and they can be very eco-friendly if they are run with solar-powered pumps.
Create a fire pit area from gravel or small pebbles. Arrange comfortable seating around your fire pit which you can enjoy with neighbors and friends.
An increasingly popular movement in urban farming is to get rid of your lawn altogether and replace it with a vegetable garden. A word of caution here; if this is in your front yard, there may be local ordinances against veggie gardens and the city can ask you to remove your vegetables if the neighbors complain. Check with your local municipality on the bylaws surrounding gardens before you start ripping up your front lawn with anticipatory donuts.
Vegetable gardens take surprisingly little work and produce an enormous amount of produce. Avoid artificial fertilizers and pesticides so that you have a ready supply of organic vegetables and fruits. Your veggie garden can look amazing if you take the time to landscape it a bit and add decorative flowers like marigolds to make it look nice and to keep bugs at bay. You can butter up the neighbors by offering a couple of free fruits and veggies when your cornucopia overflows.
Still attached to your lawn? Then find ways of maintaining it that are more eco-friendly. Make your own compost to avoid using artificial fertilizers and set your mower a little higher so that your lawn stays hydrated for longer. (You can check Oliver’s articles on Wonderland Gardens for some great mowers, by the way).Opt for electric or solar-powered mowers instead of gas guzzlers.
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