Goodbye Grass! Why No-Mow Lawns Are Taking Over
Well-manicured grass lawns are as American as baseball and apple pie. In the booming suburbs of the 1950s, all of a sudden neat front yards previously reserved as a luxury for the wealthy few; became a required piece of the picturesque "American Dream". It became such a common necessity that neighborhood covenants and city ordinances compelled homeowners to cut and water their grass or face citations and fines. Many of these rules -- known as "weed laws" -- are still on the books today.
For some folks, though, the grass is always greener ... when there is none. More and more homeowners are choosing the environmentally-friendly (and not to mention bank account friendly) option to go grass-free and forgo the thousands of hours, dollars, and gallons of exhaust, they would've otherwise spent maintaining a traditional lawn. Whether you're concerned about the environmental consequences or you just hate mowing -- check out some suggestions for landscaping your yard without using a blade of grass.
It's said that four-leaf clovers are lucky -- which is exactly how you'll feel when you see how well the plant can grow in your yard. Clover was previously recommended by Andrew Jackson Downing, who published the first landscape-gardening book for an American audience in 1841, to "sow four bushels of it to the acre and not a pint less as you plan to walk on velvet!" The only reason clover was later classified as a weed, was simply because the chemical companies created an herbicide that killed it - and they weren't about to go around telling consumers to buy their bucket of herbicide that wipes out their yard. It doesn't require as much moisture as grass and usually maintains its deep green color even in hot weather. Unlike grass, clover grows well in sandy soils and actually fertilizes itself by pulling nitrogen from the air through a process called nitrogen fixation. Pretty easy maintenance considering the velvet carpet of greenery scattered with little white blooms when flowering.
When most people think of meadows, they picture pristine alpine grassland surrounded by trees. And that's basically what a meadow garden will be in your yard, whether you live in the mountains or in the middle of a city. Sure, like a freedom lawn, meadow gardens include grasses. But they aren't the thirsty, neatly-trimmed turf grasses found in traditional lawns. Rather, meadow gardens include native grasses and other plants like those you might find in a xeriscaped lawn.
Meadow gardens require varying levels of effort to start and maintain, depending on the characteristics of your existing yard and how structured you want your new lawn to be. If a yard already has a good patch of native plants, you can simply stand back and let nature come up with the design. For a more landscaped look, you can rearrange these plants or bring in new ones that are also well-suited to your yard's growing conditions. Short grasses, sedges and rushes, some of which grow just 2 to 6 inches (5 to 15 centimeters) high, can give your meadow garden a turflike surface without the need for a lawnmower. Paths, walls, benches and other features may also be added, but shouldn't overwhelm more natural elements of the landscaping.
Thanks to the use of native plants, meadow gardens don't require much maintenance. They don't need to be watered, fertilized or mowed; after all, they're supposed to resemble natural meadows!
The goal of xeriscaping -- a term derived from the Greek word "xeros," meaning "dry" -- is to reduce the amount of water needed to maintain a lawn. It's very popular in places where rainfall is hard to come by, like the American West, and can take on a variety of forms. In areas where water is more plentiful, xeriscaped lawns may have small, irrigated patches of turf surrounded by wild grasses, flowering plants, bushes, and trees that rarely, if ever, have to be watered. Xeriscaping in drier locations, however, may consist of little more than rock gardens, sand and cactus that need little water.
Xeriscaped lawns often incorporate native plants, meaning that they're indigenous to the area and are therefore well-suited to survive in the local climate. They require little or no fertilization and water, a characteristic that has obvious ecological benefits, particularly in places where water is especially scarce. In fact, some communities are so dry that they require certain types of xeriscaping or enforce water restrictions that make traditional grass lawns impractical.
For more tips and tricks on getting a gorgeous and grass-less yard, check out the full article here!