The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

Posted in: Dear Mabel, ELNews | 0

dear-mabel-lawnA reader asks:

My business has a back garden that we use for functions and gatherings. I would like to replace the lawn with something that can withstand foot traffic, but that is more sustainable. What are the options?

A. Whether you’re simply looking for less water usage, aesthetically pleasing designs, or less maintenance, there are many alternative landscaping options besides grass lawns.

Mulch looks aesthetically pleasing, requires no maintenance and can support a heavy flow of traffic. Mulch is also inexpensive, does not require watering, and is one of the more environmentally friendly options out there. Over time mulch will break down and lose color, however you can simply replace the mulch over time. Mixed with other plants and small trees, mulch is a great alternative to grass.

Easy and relatively inexpensive, gravel is a good diverse alternative. Gravel requires no maintenance, no watering, and has a wide variety of sizes and colors that you can choose from. Plain gravel landscaping is not recommended as it can leave yards looking unappealing and bland, so additional landscaping aesthetics, such as plants and other effects, are suggested. Note also that depending on the size and type of gravel, it can be awkward and difficult to traverse on.

While clover and moss are good alternatives for a beautiful yard, they do not do well against heavy traffic. Both are delicate and can easily be torn up. Clover does not require large amounts of water or mowing like grass, however clover does have a small amount of maintenance.

Synthetic Grass
Artificial grass offers a pleasing look, paired with little maintenance and the ability to withstand heavy traffic and use. While synthetic grass does not require mowing or extensive water use, the product does require occasional brushing and light sprinkling to get rid of debris and dirt. Some drawbacks of artificial grass, however, include high installation costs and the use of durable plastics that are not biodegradable or environmentally friendly.

Concrete and pavement require no maintenance, no water, and can withstand a large amount of people, however the costs associated with concrete can be very steep. While concrete and pavement will only have a one-time installation fee due to their durability, they will need additional effects and items to make the yard visually appealing.

Xeriscaping, which involves the use of low water condition plants, is a great alternative if you wish to have an beautiful planted yard and use less water. These low water plants thrive in hot and dry conditions, only requiring rainfall. Xeriscaping also improves soil quality since water is stored within the soil. By xeriscaping, you can add to the ecosystem by selecting and incorporating native, drought-resistant plants into your yard. With xeriscaping, you can incorporate other effects such as mulch, wood chips, or leaves to better promote the health of your plants, as well as keep out invading weeds.

The best sustainable practice for landscaping, with heavy traffic and little water maintenance, is xeriscaping. Not only is it environmentally friendly with little water use, it also supports the growth and development of native plants. Since Lethbridge can be quite hot and dry, xeriscaping is perfect for creating an aesthetically pleasing yard that will not dry out or use all your water. Combined with mulch and other organic mixings, a xeriscape yard will promote water storage and increase the quality of soil in your yard, eliminating the use of pesticides and fertilizers.

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