The dream of every gardener is to see endless fields of green grass in their backyard. With determination, most gardeners manage to attain this dream, but at a cost. Within no time, there is a need to mow and control weeds. After mowing, it needs watering to grow again. This cycle continues for as long as the gardener wants to enjoy the beauty of green turf.
Tendering to your turf is a fulfilling job, but the cycle of growing, watering and mowing is not healthy for the ecosystem. First, grass consumes way too much water, especially during the dry seasons. The EPA estimates that an average American family uses about 300 gallons of water per day. Of this water, 30% goes to watering gardens.
The second reason why grass is not good for your garden is the need for regular mowing. Mowing with gas-powered mowers contributes to carbon emissions. It is estimated that a single mower emits up to 87 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. Considering the number of people who participate in gardening, mowing alone could become a global disaster.
Keeping grass is an expensive affair, especially if you don’t have the time or resources to care for it. Thankfully, there are many other alternatives you may want to consider. If you stay in a region where grass constantly requires watering, consider plants with deeper roots. Such can draw water from deep within the ground reducing the watering cycles. At the same time, most of these plants do not require regular mowing. Below are some ideal alternatives to grass for a lawn.
Hens and chicks
Also referred to as common houseleek, “hens and chicks” is a type of flowering plant belonging to the family crassulaceae. This plant does well throughout the U.S., but is much better in the southern states. It is native to the mountains of southern Europe, but has adapted well to other regions of the world.
Hens and chicks is a wonderful replacement for traditional grass for many reasons — top of them being water efficiency. These flowers hardly require watering even during the dry seasons. They grow low, to a maximum of 24 inches. Further, they spread their leaves. Within two to three years, the plant will have grown to full maturity.
If you are looking for a grass alternative that is less susceptible to diseases, then hens and chicks is a good option. Additionally, the flower can grow in all types of soils, including sandy and stony regions.
Clover is a plant in the family fabaceae of the genus trifolium. This plant sprouts out naturally in most regions. It is native to eastern Europe, but has spread to many other regions of the world. Clover grows very fast and blasts into beautiful white flowers. Since they have deeper roots than grass, they don’t require intense watering. They also do not require heavy mowing as grass.
With that said, you will still have to carry out maintenance work. Mowing is recommended once each month. However, this flower does not require the use of pesticides across the U.S.
More than 180 species of honeysuckle do exist. While there are so many species, all are very beautiful to the eye. One reason why you may want to replace grass with honeysuckle is its outstanding beauty. Further, this plant attracts plenty of bees and butterflies. If you would love to enjoy your time with some wild insects consider the honeysuckle.
The honeysuckle grows to maturity within two to three years. This plant requires well-drained soil and can be quite particular with the nature of the soil. However, it has deep roots and does not require regular watering of grass. The plant grows vertically before it starts spreading out. You may have to wait a little longer before enjoying its beauty but it is worth the wait.
Ornamental grasses are a wonderful replacement for regular grass. This is because they still give you a look and touch of grass without the maintenance needs. Most ornamental grasses do not require mowing and use way less water than regular lawns.
Ornamental grasses grow into distinct shapes that are attractive. They retain their shape even when it snows. Unfortunately, they are not ideal for areas where people walk regularly. Ornamental grasses are more like delicate flowers and may need to be mixed with other plants.
There are many types of ornamental grasses to choose from. The most common include the Chinese silver grass, fountaingrasses and pampas grasses.
Moss is quite easy to grow compared to the other options listed above. Once the moss bed grows, you will never have to water or mow it. However, you should choose a location with shade. Moss will add color and beauty to your outdoors even better than traditional grass.
Moss might not be as hardy as traditional turf, but it does withstand some foot traffic. Further, moss does not require watering. You might have to water occasionally in dry seasons but not to the level of traditional grass. Besides being drought-resistant, moss also comes in diverse types and species. With such a colorful mix to choose from, it provides better decoration for your garden than grass.
Furthermore, moss is way easier to grow than traditional turf. It covers the surface in just one season and can be shaped at any time. The downside is that it does require mowing from time to time. Moreover, it thrives under shade and hence the need to either plant trees or provide artificial shade.
There are endless alternatives to grass for those who wish to be more sustainable with gardening. Most gardeners turn to turf for ground cover, which can be quite unsustainable in the long run. Grass requires too much watering and mowing. These alternatives try to regulate the amount of water used and reduce the need for regular mowing. Besides these factors, you should also consider aesthetics, maintenance costs and the long-term environmental impact of your garden.
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