Create a Beautiful and Easy-Maintenance Eco-Friendly Yard

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Many Homeowners want the curb appeal and natural look that accompanies lush landscaping such as grass lawns. Although generally easy to plant, lawns require considerable maintenance, periodic chemical treatment, and frequent watering in order to stay green and weed free. So many homeowners are looking for lawn alternatives. Some are doing so by choice because they want to contribute to a better environment. Others may be doing so out of necessity because certain municipalities impose lawn-watering restrictions based on rainfall figures and other factors.

For the ethically minded and law-abiding, there alternatives to a turfgrass lawn beyond dead grass or an expanse of dust and dirt for a front lawn. Increasingly, homeowners are adopting the process of xeriscaping, a style of landscaping that helps conserve water. Instead of planting water-thirsty grasses such as traditional lawn grass, xeriscaping advocates planting drought-resistant ground covers such as stonecrop or rockrose. Coincidentally, these ground coverings are often planted in and among rock gardens. Other water-sipping lawn alternatives include:

  • Creeping myrtle: A fast-spreading plant with shiny leaves and blue flowers, this plant is also called creeping periwinkle.
  • Sweet woodruff: This ground cover is known to take over lawns and flowerbeds, which is a good thing when you are looking for a quick replacement for a traditional lawn.
  • Creeping thyme: Just like its herb namesake, this plant is edible and has a minty-floral aroma when crushed by walking. It flowers, too, in a variety of colors depending on strain.
  • Sedum: A popular succulent that makes its way into terrariums and office desk plants.  

These groundcovers can replace all of your turfgrass if given time to spread. The work is easy but may require a season of less-than-perfect visuals. First thing’s first; you’re going to get dirty, so invest in a good pair of gardening gloves, a sod-cutting shovel, and a garden spade. If you dare, remove all of your existing grass sod. Alternatively, you can cover your lawn with a layer of newspaper, then a layer of soil. If you choose this route, make sure to provide at least three inches of soil depth so the new plants can take root.

Once you’ve removed the old lawn, plant the new ground cover in portions, dotting the front yard. Ground cover often comes in six-inch pots. You’ll want to leave a space between plants of at least a distance equal to the new plant’s diameter. Over time, these spaces will fill in as ground cover grows laterally, like ivy on an old brick building.

And although your new plants will need less water, they still will consume natural resources. If your municipality prohibits watering, you’ll need to find ways to retain precious rainwater. Try installing rain barrels near your gutter spouts. Since topsoil doesn’t retain water well, fill in the spaces between your new groundcover with mulch, which holds rainwater like a sponge, releasing it bit by bit to your plants. Other ways to use rainwater to your advantage include making sure roof runoff is being put to good use—not just dumping someplace on the side of your house or running out to your street’s gutters.

Today, people are moving away from the emerald-green front lawn ideal for environmental and aesthetic reasons. Through xeriscaping, a new normal is emerging for a naturally landscaped home. With some planning and a few of these tips, you can replace your waterhog lawn with something better for the planet and improve your curb appeal, too.
Photo Credit: Pixabay

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