By Bonnie L. Grant
Grass is lovely to play and walk upon but, boy, can it be a pain to maintain. Mowing, weeds, watering, and edging all combine to make lawn maintenance a bore and a chore. Enter grass alternatives. These are easy to maintain, need little to no mowing, are vigorous and often use less water. Grass alternatives are not always as tough as grass for rough play, but they do make beautiful low maintenance alternatives to turfgrass. Here are my top 5 lawn alternatives to grass.
1. Moss in the Grass? Maximize it!
In many of our cool and temperate regions with plenty of rainfall, moss in the lawn is a common complaint. We have products specifically designed to remove the moss and encourage the grass, but what if you did it the other way around? Remove your sod and prepare the soil. Make a moss slurry using found moss and a bit of water. Blend in a food processor until thick and spray this over the area you want covered. Keep moderately moist as it grows and fills in.
2. Clover Lawns, Great for Pollinators!
If your grass is inundated by clover rather than moss, you might as well plant the stuff. White clover makes a great ground cover, so let it take over for the grass. It also attracts pollinators to the area so keep this in mind if you have play areas, as clover wouldn’t be a good option here.
3. Herbs as Grass Substitutes
Herbs make excellent alternatives to turfgrass. They can generally tolerate light foot traffic and emit intoxicating scents when bruised.
- Corsican mint is one of the lowest mints and does well in partial to full sun.
- Thyme is another lovely and easy to grow herb that spreads into a fuzzy mat and blooms in spring.
- Chamomile may be too tall for walking and playing upon but it has excellent drought tolerance and needs no maintenance until fall when it should be mowed.
4. Ornamental Grass Lawns
It might seem funny to replace grass with grass but it’s all in the selection.
- Sedges provide a wide range of selection and fill in old grass spaces with billowy elegance.
- Mondo grasses will fill in quickly and while not hardy to foot contact, they need no mowing and have interesting texture.
- Lilyturf, or Liriope, has similar characteristics but will form slightly taller, strappy leaves that produce attractive purple or sometimes white flower spires.
5. Ground Cover Lawn Ideas
Possibilities here might be dwarf myrtle, Vinca or even ivy. The choice of plant depends upon the type of use you have for your lawn area. Any of these will offer nearly foolproof growing ease and a whole lot less mowing.