Mulch comes in a variety of materials, which allows for creative landscape designs using different textures and colors. Mulch provides additional benefits as one of the alternatives to grass lawns such as moisture retention, weed control, protection against erosion, heat retention and protection of root systems. If the yard is being landscaped with features such as flower or rock gardens, mulch is ideal for creating pathways throughout the yard. The types of mulch include wood chips, shredded bark, sawdust, pine needles and straw mulch. Another alternative material is rubber mulch made with recycled tires. It is long-lasting, permeable and doesn't attract bugs.
Moss as a ground cover is the perfect solution for shady lawns as well as lawns with poor soil. The two key ingredients for growing moss are moisture, a two-minute watering daily, and daylight, but not direct sun. For yards that are heavily shaded, moss is both practical?needs no mowing?and provides aesthetic value. Moss does not produce flowers, seeds or establish true roots. It is a cover-like mat of stems and leaves, which absorbs nutrients and water. Moss grows very well with other perennials that thrive in the shade such as hostas, trilliums and ferns.
Flower and Shrub Beds
The advantage of using flower and shrub beds as the main covering instead of grass is the opportunity to add a variety of textures and colors. This combination adds a touch of interest and beauty to the landscape while reducing soil erosion and the amount of time needed for maintaining a grassy lawn. Generally, the types of plants used range in various heights of around 1 ft., or less. Taller flowers and shrubs can be used, as well, as a backdrop to the shorter plants. Flower beds, built-in planters and alongside sidewalks are a few suggestions when laying out a landscaping plan. For pathways throughout the yard, use one of the suggestions in this slideshow such as mulch, rocks or gravel to cover the area.
Visions of flowers blooming and gently bending in the breeze evokes an atmosphere of peace and serenity. This scene can be yours with a colorful garden meadow. There are two types: perennial and annual. Perennial meadows blossom from year to year and annual meadows produce once per year. Both are excellent alternatives to grass and put on a display of color for many months. Planting is recommended in mid-spring or early autumn in sunny areas. While annual meadows need a rich soil base, perennial meadows do well in poor soil. Wildflowers are available as a mixture of assorted seeds or as individual plants.
For a friendly lawn, consider xeriscaping. Not only does this alternative promote water conservation by using native plants, but it also requires less maintenance, weeding and pruning. The elimination of grassy areas means less water is necessary. Plus, xeriscaping helps improve the soil by quickly draining and storing water, resulting in the reduction of water runoff and evaporation. Xeriscaping requires less pesticide and fertilizers. This alternative to grass is seen typically in climates that are extremely arid and dry.
Outdoor Garden Features
Create an oasis in the front or backyard and eliminate the need for grass by designing a landscape that uses mostly hardscape features, such as a deck, patio, koi pond, water features, an outdoor kitchen or a fire pit. For pathways, use one of the mentioned low-maintenance ground covers such as moss, gravel, synthetic grass or mulch. A touch of greenery can be added using several options such as planting bordering flower beds alongside the pathways, designating an area for a vegetable or flower garden, and highlighting areas around decks, ponds or patios with drought-resistant and ornamental grasses.