When we think of a nice-looking property, a bright, green grass lawn is usually in the picture. However, those extensive, well-trimmed lawns can be a lot more trouble than they’re worth.
Not only do grass lawns require regular mowing, weeding, and fertilizing—expenses that add up over time—they also require huge amounts of water. Especially in dry areas, water usage skyrockets in order to keep lawns green. According to the EPA, landscape irrigation in America totals nearly 9 billion gallons per day, accounting for ⅓ of residential water use. Around half of the water used for outdoor purposes is wasted from overwatering or other inefficient methods.
Many are now recognizing both the eco-friendly and stress-free benefits and stress of making sustainable changes to their lawns. There are many plant alternatives to grass that require fewer resources to maintain, as well as landscaping materials and creative design choices that don’t involve grass.
Change can start small: you can gradually decrease water usage by replacing sections of your yard with one or more of these lawn alternatives. Or, you can work to replace your entire lawn with a more eco-friendly option. Below, Angi has created helpful visuals with some of the most unique and low-maintenance ideas.
1. Ground Covers
Ground covers like clover, moss, and creeping plants like jenny and thyme, make for unique, low-growing lawn replacements. They don’t require mowing, and often don’t need as much water or fertilizer as conventional grass lawns. The ground cover ideas below can introduce unique textures to your lawn or garden space, and they often look especially pleasing around paths and walkways.
When deciding on the best ground cover for your needs, take note of which plants can tolerate foot traffic and dry weather. If you own a dog, make sure to choose a pet-friendly plant.
2. Flowers and Ornamental Grasses
A flower garden or shrub bed can help reduce the size of a grass lawn while also adding beautiful colors and shapes to your yard. Choosing native wildflowers and ornamental grasses is the most eco-friendly option; since they are well adapted to the local soil, they won’t need much fertilizer or water outside of regular rainfall. They can also contribute to the surrounding environment by attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies.
Make sure to consider which flowers, grasses, and shrubs will attract the most pollinators, can withstand droughts, and if they are harmful to pets.
3. Landscaping Ideas
Landscaping materials and designs that don’t involve living plants can save the most water and time spent on upkeep. Sand, gravel, and mulch are inexpensive and require very little maintenance aside from yearly top offs. There are a plethora of ways to shape your landscape with these options. Another option is high-quality artificial grass, which can last for years and look just as pleasing as living grass. For more design ideas with these materials, see below.
By replacing all or parts of your lawn with these alternatives, you can cut down on water usage while still cultivating an interesting and beautiful outdoor space.