A lawn can be attractive but we all spend hours on a nice lawn not to mention the cost of maintaining that lawn and the hassle of mowing. Why not covert portions of your lawn to wildflowers or low growing, low maintenance lawn alternatives? It won’t only free up your time, but it will benefit wildlife and pollinators and still look beautiful and neat!
Map out your property and place markers on hard to mow areas, areas that the lawn doesn’t look too great, rocky areas, wet areas or shade areas or just areas you think flowers would look nice. Further away from the home you can do just about anything. Closer to your house, we’ll make some great suggestions that will keep in neat and organized. Jot down which areas are simply just areas and are not used for anything. Map out areas that you use for activities and mark them ‘keep lawn’.
Once you have decided which areas you wish to convert – study them. How much sun do they get, what are the conditions of the soil, is the area wet, moist, steep, rocky etc. Start with the difficult areas first, like that steep embankment where you almost tip over every time you mow. For this area, depending on how far it is from your home, a wildflower mix would be a great choice. Erosion control and a pretty embankment when finished will minimize your risk of killing yourself on the mower and give everyone something beautiful to gaze at from the house.
We would suggest keeping the areas closer to your house short – you can choose a no-mow grass mixture or a flowering lawn for this portion. On the outer edges you can complement this by choosing borders of wildflowers or drifts of taller growing wildflowers or perennial plants. Planting in groupings is also attractive. Keeping your planting in these areas simple will be easy to care for. Shrubs, perennials and wildflowers will also suppress weeds and creates safe havens for frogs, birds and other small creatures.
Although it takes some time to get the lower growing ground covers established, they’ll eventually form a mat that helps keep weeds at bay. We suggest using No-mow grass, a lawn alternative mixture that includes low growing eye pleasing grasses and low growing wildflowers and clovers. If the area is shady, then you can try Vinca, Pachysandra in those shady corners. For spring color, plant flower bulbs, bleeding hearts or wildflowers between the ground covers. In sunny, dry areas, daylilies are one of the fastest-spreading perennial ground covers you can grow. You can also mulch your flower beds outside these areas in your groupings of flowers. Mulch retains soil moisture and improves the quality of your soil and will also save on watering.
A few tips on how to maintain whatever lawn you choose to leave:
Mow high: Mowing at a setting of 2 1/2″ to 3″encourages deeper, healthier roots. Tall grass is most likely to shade out weeds.
Leave the grass clippings where they fall which adds free nutrients to the soil. However, if you are having a rainy season then wet clippings will smothering the lawn, so rake them up and compost them.
Re-seed bare patches – make sure you are buying the right grass seed for your regions. Before buying seed, find out what thrives in your region. Just picking up any old bag of grass seed will not necessarily be conducive to your area.