5 Alternatives to a Traditional Lawn

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Tired of mowing yet? Unless you’re reading this in the dead of winter, the answer is probably yes. Your lawn can be a thing of beauty, but oh the work it takes to keep the turf looking its best–weeding, watering, mowing, raking. Lawns can be expensive too, from sod installation to professional maintenance to a sprinkler system to keep it green.
Add to that the environmental concerns that keeping a pristine lawn raises. In areas where drought is a persistent issue, lawns soak up too much precious water. They often require harsh chemical fertilizers that can seep into the water table, and they rob birds and other animals of the natural cover they use as habitat.
For these reasons, many homeowners have searched for alternatives to the traditional lawn. If you’re one of those who are ready to tear out your turf, here are five ideas you might consider:

1. Cottage Garden

Ornamental perennial plants and hardscape pathFill your yard with easy to care for perennials, breaking up the flower beds with paths, mulch beds and groundcovers. Check out the wide range of ornamental grasses to add texture and a place for birds to hide and nest. Groundcovers like yarrow, creeping phlox and lambs’ ears are easy to care for perennials that will give the lush look of a lawn as well as add color to your landscape.

2. Cacti and Succulents Garden

Cacti and succulents, lawn alternativeIn warm and dry climates, a succulent garden is not only an appropriate replacement for your lawn, it might be a necessary one. Succulents like agave, sedum and aloe both impart a western feel to your landscape and thrive with very little of the water that’s scarce in so many locales.

3. Japanese Garden

Japanese gardenTake a clue from Japanese gardeners, who have long forgone grassy green swaths in favor of pebbled paths, raked sand, water features and graceful small trees and shrubs. Japanese gardens are laid out to encourage wandering and meditation. So if you’re someone who likes to relax in your outdoor spaces, this might be the alternative lawn for you.

4. Native Wildflowers

Wildflower gardenTurn your lawn into a native wildflower meadow, an alternative lawn solution that has it all. Wildflower meadows, if created from native plants, don’t require any more water than they get from rainfall. They’re also full of flowers loved by pollinators and birds. Wildflower meadows are tough, able to withstand a band of children intent on picking bouquets. And, and of course, they’re one of nature’s most beautiful sights.

5. Vegetable Garden

Vegetable gardenA well-tended vegetable plot can be every bit as attractive as an expanse of turf, and at the end of the day, you can harvest and eat rather than mow and rake. This lawn alternative is very popular in Europe and was once in North America too. During the World Wars planting a so-called “victory garden” was considered an act of patriotism.
If you’ve had it with your lawn, there’s no reason you need to keep it one season longer. There are many alternatives to the traditional lawn that are more attractive, less work, less expense, and friendlier to the environment. So go ahead, kick the mower to the curb and join the many happy gardeners who have turfed out their turf.
Did you replace your lawn? We’d love to see the outcome! Share it with us on My Garden Life’s Facebook page.

Meadow garden with wooden bench


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