The search for an alternative to the traditional lawn has been embraced by a variety of homeowners, including younger, first-time homebuyers, environmentalists, and those who are looking for a simpler, more enjoyable lifestyle with less time spent as a weekend warrior. In addition, COVID-19 has brought about changes in the priorities that many homeowners hold and allowed them to explore new hobbies like cooking and gardening.
If you have a large area of land and would like to let part of it return to its natural state, the University of Maryland provides a guide for the long-term return of lawn or pasture to woodland. Not ready to forego the traditional lawn? Start with your backyard and make it a unique, personal reflection of your aesthetic. Here are just a few of the possibilities for a non-lawn landscape.
Biodiverse landscaping involves the re-introduction of native flora to the home garden, including the replacement of trees and ground coverings with native species. This allows native insects, birds, and wildlife to return to your property and promotes healthier ecosystems. In addition, native plantings are better able to withstand local weather conditions, meaning less watering and cultivation in order to achieve a beautiful outcome.
Forget artificial, too-blue pools. Natural pools offer both a more organic aesthetic and more environmentally friendly functionality. Built to resemble natural creeks and ponds, a natural pool is filtered organically with native plant species and gravel in a process similar to that which occurs in nature. The natural pool, along with its regeneration zone, creates its own natural environment that helps to nourish local plant and animal populations.
Low Maintenance Lawns
For those who are interested in an easy-care alternative to the traditional lawn without creating extensive new infrastructure, there are a variety of low maintenance options available. Remember to look for those that are native to your area in order to increase their bio-availability and make them easier to care for and cultivate.
There are many ornamental grasses that do not require cutting. Some can grow as high as a few feet while others may stay lower to the ground. Ornamental grasses come in a variety of colors and styles and are often valued for their ability to enrich the soil and provide protection from sedimentary runoff.
If you have a shady backyard, moss may be the answer you’ve been looking for. Low to the ground and soft, so you can still walk over it, moss spreads quickly and establishes itself as a hearty choice for your low-maintenance yard. Like ornamental grasses, moss comes in a variety of styles so you can create your own one-of-a-kind design plan.
There are a wide variety of perennial plants that creep and spread throughout your yard to make a beautiful ornamental garden. Many of these are flowering plants that bloom for much of the year and require little or no maintenance.
If you have soil with good drainage or live in an area with predominantly sandy soil, a succulent garden may be right for you. There are a variety of styles and colors to choose from and their varying textures will create an attractive natural patchwork in your yard.
If you have a lot of lawn to fill, you might want to turn part of it over to a wildflower meadow. There are many options for wildflower seed mixes and roll out mats to make establishing your wildflower garden easier. Once established, wildflowers will come back year after year and tolerate even the harshest conditions.
If you want to cut down on the amount of lawn you need to maintain, consider expanding your existing hardscapes. Paths and terraces can be interspersed with low maintenance native plants to offer you the best of both worlds—biodiversity and areas for seating, grilling, dining, and entertaining.
Whether you were born with a green thumb or are just starting to get interested in gardening, filling part of your lawn with a useful and beautiful garden allows you to both cut down on lawn maintenance and grow foods and flowers that enhance your life in practical ways.
Traditional ornamental flower beds, shrubbery, and other garden types make a great option for adding beauty to your yard while cutting down on the amount of lawn you need to maintain. Choose native species for easy care and environmental benefits. Consider playing around with traditional elements like follies and labyrinths for even more fun.
If you love cooking you’ll love having your own herb garden in your backyard. Cultivate a variety of herbs in order to enhance your culinary efforts and to make your outdoor spaces smell delightful. Many herbs can be grown throughout the year and many are perennial — plant them once and enjoy them for years to come.
If you really want to create game-changing results on your dinner table, invest the time and effort to create a large kitchen or vegetable garden. Experiment with a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially those that are native to your region. Consider both an early harvest and a late one featuring root vegetables that can grow even during the colder fall months.