Warm weather is here which means everyone can enjoy the outdoors. Our lawns and gardens can provide “rooms” and places for families to gather and to have fun. After all, your garden is a part of your home isn’t it? Love the idea of a beautiful outdoor space but hate all the work involved? Let’s look at ways to look after your yard that aren’t going to take a huge amount of time or effort. Just remember if you live in a neighborhood with restrictions and guidelines for landscaping, check with the association for accepted lawns before you make radical changes.
Reconsider Your Lawn
Since most of the time and money spent on lawns is mowing and watering grass, investigate alternatives to your current grass lawn. The idea of a thick green expanse of grass originated in the British Isles. Their climate and rain make having an abundant lawn easy. I live in Florida. Grass isn’t really a natural thing here, and it takes great amounts of water and care to keep a green lawn.
First, look at your growing zone and what works for your environment. Are you in a water restricted area? What grasses grow well in your environment? Check with local master gardeners and nurseries. According to a NASA study on lawns, 50,000 square miles of grass covers the United States, which the EPA estimates accounts for one-third of Americans’ water usage. If you have to have that green lawn, consider other grasses than a carpet of thirsty bluegrass. 95 percent of American lawns are bluegrass. TreeHugger has a great list of 6 grasses for low maintenance, drought-resistant lawns. Check it out!
Consider replacing your current lawn with a “no-mow” grass. There are seed mixes introduced to produce a green space and little to no mowing. “No Mow Lawn Mix” is great for open, sunny spaces where native prairie grasses once grew, such as the cooler, medium-rainfall areas of the upper Midwest, Northeast, and Pacific Northwest. Verde Buffalo Grass is another drought-tolerant lawn alternative. They say it saves time and water, and is better for your allergies.
Replace Grass With Other Plantings
There are many posts online about the use of plants to substitute for grass and to eliminate the constant need to mow. One interesting post at The Spruce is on xeriscaping plants . Great information and ideas to reduce water usage through choosing the right plants for the yard.
I like the idea of replacing grass with clover. I know many of you consider that a weed. Did you know it was used extensively until the 1950’s? White clover seed used to be included in the typical lawn seed mix, being appreciated as a ground cover with numerous attractive qualities. What do clover lawns have over grass lawns? How about drought-tolerance, cost-savings, and less impact on the environment? Interested? Clovers are insect-resistant, compete well with weeds, and don’t have to be mowed often, making these low-maintenance plants a superb substitute for grass. White clover grows just 2-8 inches tall and requires little or no mowing to keep it looking tidy. When I was in elementary school in Tennessee decades ago, the school yard had lots of clover in the grass. We loved it. A group of us would sit in the grass during play period and pick lots of little white flowers and make clover chains. Make a circle and wear it around your neck as a necklace. In the spring and fall, lots of clover necklaces were worn in the classroom. It was a great place to play!
Note: I’ve been informed by a knowledgeable reader that clover attracts wild rabbits who find it a gourmet meal. Rabbits are not the cleanest animal I’ve been told. If you live close to the woods, it might not be the best choice for you. If you live in a subdivision away from wild creatures it might work for you.
Moss is an excellent choice for wet, shady areas. Take out the grass and put in moss. No real maintenance and it’s velvety appearance is pleasing. Moss is a natural as a filler between stones or on the side of a path or walk through shaded, moist woods. It grows well in rock gardens.
Use ground covers for your lawn like phlox or red creeping thyme which give you green coverage and seasonal flowers. HGTV has beautiful photos of all kinds of ground cover. Pick one that works for your area and sun. If you have a deer problem, check out the article on deer-resistant ground covers. HGTV gives all the information needed on 18 tough ground covers. For the lowest maintenance, choose a ground cover that is native to your area. I use purple wandering Jew, periwinkle, and dune sunflower in my yard as ground cover and low maintenance plantings. They work well with my hot climate. Houzz has a great post with 7 low maintenance lawn alternatives for more ideas.
I am in love with a neighbor’s side yard. Looks like he seeded for flowers and it is beautiful! No mowing this summer for this yard. I’ll do a separate post on his yard next week.
Replace Grass With Stone, Rocks, or Shells
Here in Florida some people choose to remove the grass and go for a low maintenance stone yard. This house above is a couple of blocks from my home. With a barrier cloth on the ground and then a load of stones, your lawn is attractive and has low maintenance. If weeds do pop up, use a mixture of white vinegar and water to spray the yard for weeds. Please avoid toxic weed killers. While this total stone approach may not work in other climates, rock gardens can be a nice addition to any yard. Rock gardens typically contain drought-tolerant plants that don’t need much care. Moreover, the rocks, themselves offer a decor that never needs to be watered or tended to in any way whatsoever. See Rock Gardens For Low Maintenance Yards for more information with a database of plants like phlox below.
Another neighbor edges her driveway and flower beds with shells. I’ve seen it used in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Shells for paths, drives, etc. are popular along the Gulf coast. When you live by the Gulf or ocean, shells just seem appropriate and I love the look.
I personally used lava rock around my walk in the front yard. I wanted texture and color. I need to add more stone this year and will look for a color that would work well with the existing lava rock.
Replace Grass With Edibles
Last year I visited 2 gardening friends who grow food in their yards. David and Torah mostly grow in the huge back yard. Jim replaced the front yard lawn with a beautiful edible garden. He is quite artistic with carrots edging the beds. Your edible plantings can be attractive as well as provide your family food. Be sure to consider fruit trees, bushes, and vines appropriate to your area, Who wouldn’t want to see an apple, cherry, or peach tree bloom and produce fruit?
Make it attractive
One of the most common reasons that people end up ignoring their gardens is because they don’t really like looking at it. This often happens because their garden has become ugly or just plain boring. Well, the answer to this problem is pretty simple: just make your garden more attractive. Think about how you really want it to look and make that happen. See garden planning for forms to help plan. Inject some color into it with flowers, use garden fountains to make a statement, create rows of plants for a neat, orderly style, or let things grow where they fall for a more natural look. Whatever style you like, embrace it and inject some of that into your outdoor spaces. When my neighbor tore out the grass 2 years ago and had a truckload of rocks spread through the yard, I feared it would be a boring beige rocky mess. Just rocks. Then came a palm tree, the fountain and finally the eagle sculpture and bench which completed the look. I am more of a plant person but his yard works for him and is very attractive. I like the fountain, eagle statue and bench which help complete the yard and give it a polished look.
Make it part of your routine
Sometimes it can often feel as though the moment you turn your back on your garden, it becomes overgrown. The best way to deal with this is to make taking care of your garden a part of your regular routine. That way your garden doesn’t have the chance to get too overgrown, and it’s a whole lot easier to take care of it.
Hire a professional
Of course, if there’s a lot of work that needs doing in your garden, then one of the best things that you can do is to hire a professional. After all, if you need the lawn replaced or a tree chopped down, it’s probably a good idea to reach out to someone who really knows what they’re doing rather than attempting to deal with it on your own.
In conclusion, the key is to think of your garden as just another part of your home. Sure, the other parts of your home aren’t impacted by things like the weather and having your backyard outside keeps it kind of separate, but that doesn’t make it any less of an important part of your home. Give it the kind of love that you would to any other part of your home and you’ll find that you enjoy spending time in it a lot more because of it. Make a plan for changes that are lower maintenance. Add your maintenance chores to your seasonal to do lists. Then enjoy your green spaces.
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28 thoughts to “Low Maintenance Yards”
We haven’t pursued the traditional lawn because we’d have to use chemicals dangerous to the dogs. However, just a heads up one of the down sides of clover is it attracts rabbits. They are not the cleanest animals in the world and they are an issue dogs. Our lawn has always had clover and the blasted rabbits think its gourmet dining.
Oh my. I never saw a rabbit in my yard growing up and we had lots of clover. Of course we lived in a neighborhood far away from woods. I’ll add a note to the clver section warning of rabbits. I have never lived close enough to wilder woods to see deer, rabbits, etc. All I have a birds and a few feral cats.
It would be nice to replace the lawn so we wouldn’t have to have it mowed. In fact, i’ve started looking into it. The problem is the neighbors, i’m not so sure how they would take to such a thing unless i landscaped more than i can afford right now.
Try doing something small to the side like a rock garden with lots of ground cover. If you like it, you could add more in the future. I started my path with rocks back 4 to 5 years ago and it took me almost 2 years to finish it. Slow going but I’m lucky my neighbors were more curious than upset.
Love this post. I’m kinda in the no lawn camp. My love of flowers has taken me down that road & the more I find out the less I like lawns.
I totally understand. Give me flowers!
Fascinating post! I am looking for low maintenance flowers and landscaping. Thanks for sharing. I came over from Life with Lorelai.
Thanks so much for visiting Pam. I’m off to visit you now!
I don’t have a huge yard or garden, but it’s big enough that it’s a lot of work. I do enjoy the work – and most of the work seems to be in the transition from winter/spring to spring/summer. Usually I spend a good week of hard labor in the garden during the month of May. After that I can go into enjoyment/maintenance mode!
Sounds like you have it done pat. Enjoy your summer in the yard. Thanks for visiting.
I like the ground cover options. Thankful my husband handles yard duties!
I like ground covers too. They are such sturdy little plants and just keep working.
we’ve kept our garden to a minimum in dubai and choose plants that need little watering. We did have to put some turf down for the dog, as in summer the tiles and block paving would be too hot for him to go outside in if he needed a pee in the day
Dubai is a completely different world. Thanks for visiting.
They all look lovely! I need a low up keep garden. Just have no time to spend in the sun and garden. This gives me some good ideas! #happynow
I’m so glad you found ideas to use. Happy Almost Summer!
All really great tips to get out and enjoy your garden, but also maintaining easily. As someone with severe hayfever/allergies, the little work I need to do out there, the better. Haha! Making it a part of your routine is a great tip. #keepingitreal
With hay fever (which I have too) I suggest you go with a rock garden with ground cover. My neighbor has a gravel yard as the previous owner was allergic to grass and got rid of it.
I love the idea of using moss. I am definitely going to share that with the hubby and I think a rock garden would work for us. thanks for the tips. #keepingitreal
I’m so happy you found an idea to use. Have a great day!
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Hi Carol, I love you ideas for low maintenance outdoor spaces. Before we had a lawn we had chamomile growing wild and I used to love it, it’s beuatifully spongy underfoot and it has a distinct scent, but my husband wanted grass. Owning a awn mower was something he felt he had to do once he reached his mid forties… I love the use of shells and lava rock as part of a yard. For me the ideal out door space would be sort of meadow/ country garden, to attract wildlife, but that is never ging to happen here.
Thank you for linking up with #keepingitreal
Thanks for the visit Deb
Carol, what great suggestions! I have lots of ground covers and they keep the weeds out. After spring clean up my main chore is cutting back perennials. I have very little weeds. Thanks for sharing with The Garden Party.
You did great planning and now reap the reward, a Beautiful yard and flowers.
I enjoyed your post. Lots of good advice here. Enjoy your garden!