Eco friendly lawn alternatives

Eco friendly lawn alternatives

If maintaining a lovely lawn is proving hard work and you're worried about hose pipe bans becoming the norm in summer, then consider redesigning your garden with plants that need little water

A beautiful lawn is a wondrous thing but it requires a lot water to keep it green and time invested to keep it moss-free. As we're now experiencing ever hotter springs and summers, water may well have to be rationed in the form of hose pipe bans. So think about an eco-friendly alternatives to large areas of grass such as mini meadows, and part-lawn / part hard-landscaping.

Temperatures are set to rise, which poses difficulties for people with gardens. That's because long periods of high temperatures are likely to result in hose pipe bans, which is a particular issue for lawns, since they do need lots of watering to keep them in rude health. As such many homeowners are looking for alternatives to lawns. An obvious answer is fake grass, or astroturf, but these products are made from plastic and they're not eco friendly, so they really are a no-no.
 
The good news is you don't have to hard landscape over a lawn or grassy area because there are alternatives to grass lawns which use up to 75 per cent traditional grass, and so allow the garden eco-system to carry on unaffected. In other words birds and insects can flourish.
 
Create a mini wildflower meadow in the garden
 
One of the best ways to have an eco-friendly garden is to start a miniaturised wildflower meadow in your garden. Even a small amount of garden space can be turned into an area that will support butterflies, ladybirds, insects, birds and other small wildlife.
 
Get started now before the ground freezes.
 
1/ Simply turn over the soil and cover it with black plastic. Any weed seeds will germinate and die.
2/ Then scatter over the soil butterfly-friendly British wildflowers seeds, such as red campion, knapweed, red clover and nettles. Many packs also contain long grasses and daisies. Setting a 'meadow' bed along a fence with honeysuckle, lavender, and buddleia is also a perfect way to create an eco-friendly lawn alternative, which will make spotting butterflies an enjoyable summertime pastime.
 
Ornamental grasses 
 
One of the most popular ways to reduce the amount of lawn is to plant dramatic ornamental grasses as formal displays. Many varieties are drought resistant and extremely low maintenance - making them a sensible choice for anyone short of time. Ornamental grasses are useful for places where people tend not to walk - for example around the edge of a lawn.
 
Other alternatives to grass 
 
Take up the turf from say the back quarter of a lawn and cover with topsoil. Then plant clover, creeping thyme,and chamomile, which will provide great coverage and look lovely and natural. (And if that sounds like a lot of work, there are companies that can help you to establish and maintain your eco-friendly lawn.)These plants require little to no mowing, while chamomile and clover will grow on slopes and in areas you might have found hard to manage. They also produce beautiful flowers througout the summer months, and Dutch clover, by the way, does also withstand people walking on it.  
 
Moss
 
Moss is loathed by lawn aficionados, but soft moss is a natural evergreen that comes in a variety of colours and will grow well in sun and shade. Pleurocarp varieties provide a soft carpet that's thick and flat. Many mosses are drought resistant or simply go dormant during dry spells and will bounce back when  the conditions improve.
 
Drought resistant grass
 
If you do want to keep a generous-sized lawn, you'll need grass that can cope in drought conditions - which we see, of course, on the Continent and in hot climes.  Some of the best drought-resistant varieties hail from America, such as Kentucky Bluegrass, Fine Fescue and Tall Fescue and 'UC Verde' Buffalo Grass which require minimal watering and mowing.
 
Getting a head start on establishing drought resistant lawns will help ensure a green lawn as changes to climate cause longer warmer summers.
 
Some tips on 'UC Verde'
UC Verde is planted only by plugs, which are usually spaced 12 in. apart. UC Verde grows to only 4-6 in. tall and like bermudagrass, it spreads by stolons. It has very few flowerheads (so very little pollen) or seeds. 'UC Verde' is very competitive with weeds once established, and it requires mowing only every 2-3 weeks for a mowed lawn look, or as little as once a year for a more natural look. An important feature is that it requires less water -- 50-75 per cent less than tall fescue, and much less than bermudagrass. It is also highly resistant to diseases and insect pests. Its main drawback is that, like bermudagrass, it goes fully dormant in the winter when hard frosts occur. 
 
Redesign for living
 
Many people are looking to redesign their gardens to avoid grassy areas altogether. But environmentalists urge us not to completely pave over our space because it impacts on wildlife and causes drainage problems. So aim to combine planting with hard landscaping or decking. Ideas include using decking to create a patio close to the house with flagstone paths leading through the lawn, to gravel-topped areas which create places where we can put a chair or lounger. If you don't feel able to redesign your garden yourself, talk to a landscape gardener who can advise you on how to get that eco-friendly low maintenance garden.
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