three low-maintenance alternatives to the traditional lawn
Mowing got you down? Or are you looking to add a little diversity to your yard? There are a number of plants that make for excellent alternatives to your traditional grass lawn. You might have to sacrifice the toughness and timeless appeal of Kentucky bluegrass to experiment with an alternative lawn, but the benefits of a switch include aesthetic individuality and ease of care – and you might even help save the bees! Read on for the basics on a few offbeat ground cover options.
If you’ve been considering trying an alternative lawn, Dutch clover might just be your lucky break. This low-growing variety of clover is inexpensive to seed, low-maintenance, and hardy – a good choice for someone aiming to get away from chemical herbicides. Clover can’t take quite as much traffic as traditional grass, but it feels great under bare feet. It grows best in low-nutrient soil, and actually functions to fertilize the ground it grows in, which makes it a good partner for a mixed lawn. Clover requires very little mowing, and if uncut, produces white blooms which attract and support bees. This alternative also attracts insects such as praying mantis, and others, which deter plant-killing pests.
Fragrant and often flowery, thyme is more difficult to start, but can provide a beautiful, colorful ground cover. There are many varieties of ground cover thymes, ranging from green bushes to sprays of blooming pink. Thyme does best in well-drained soils with at least four hours of sunshine a day. Once established, a thyme lawn requires little maintenance, as it prevent weeds from sprouting where planted and doesn’t need to be mowed frequently. This plant can take a little traffic, but consider installing stepping stones on main walkways to protect the stems from being trampled too often.
For airy, low-maintenance ground cover, Irish moss is a lovely choice. This light green, fine-fronded flower doesn’t take traffic well, but in rarely tread areas takes the work out of lawn care. Irish Moss grows to about 3 inches in height. In the spring and summer, it reaches its full height when tiny, star-shaped white flowers bloom. While the plant will tolerate pruning, it isn’t necessary to do so. This ground cover is established by planting many sprouts throughout the desired area; establishing smaller areas of this plant throughout your yard is a good way to reduce the area occupied by traditional lawn. Irish Moss doesn’t care much about the nutritional contents of your soil, as long as it’s kept in a sunny and well-watered area.