When it comes to a lawn, all homeowners want to make people stopped when they saw the beauty of their yard with colorful, fresh, and well-placed flowers around. By the time, people still have the same demand but with a different view.
Their idea goes on how to have a beautiful lawn without spending much time and budget to maintain it. Therefore, we can see the trend of lawn alternatives. Some people also go for the low maintenance lawn.
Low Maintenance Lawn – What Is It?
Conventional lawns are excellent with several fine turfgrasses, which the owners have the goal for an attractive garden. They do many things to keep the grasses green such as mowing them every week and watering them regularly. Besides, they have to work for edging, fertilizing, and treating them from any insects, diseases as well as weeds. These tasks can take your time, budget, and resources.
The water consumption increased, especially in the summer together with the problem of air and noise pollution with electric mowers. People use pesticides more, which leads to human health and the environment. The last potential issue is the growth of using a fertilizer that will bring problems to water quality, lawn soil quality and aquatic life.
So, what is a low-maintenance lawn? It is designed with a combination of hardy, slow-growing, drought-tolerant, and low-height turf grasses. Also, most low maintenance lawn has wear-tolerant broadleaf and fescues species like clover that needs less mowing, fertilizing or watering compared to common lawn species.
In short, a low-maintenance lawn can be beneficial for the owner. It is because the grass can go with less intensive maintenance without giving significant impact practices. The park can save our time and cost as well as the environmental health. The example is creeping thyme lawn
The Benefits Of Low Maintenance Lawn
CMHC studied the time, costs, and resources to plant and maintain seven types of residential landscape in 1998 and 1999. They recorded the maintenance activities in southern Ontario for more than two-year period. During the study, there were 30 residence landscapes.
They also compared the maintenance of five conventional lawns with the four low-maintenance ones. The result was the residents with low-maintenance gardens had 50% less time, 85% of less money, and 50% less fuel. They also found that low-maintenance lawns took 80% less fertilizer, 100% less water, and 100% less of pesticides yearly compared to the conventional lawns.
Here, we can learn that having a low-maintenance lawn is better to save our resources, our environment and our time itself, just like having creeping thyme lawn.
How To Have Low Maintenance Lawn From Design To Maintenance
To have a low-maintenance lawn, there are three steps to do: to select the suitable species mix, to install and to change the plants to less-intensive maintenance.
1. Selecting Suitable Species
A low-maintenance lawn requires a combination of species that are hardier, more drought-tolerant and better suited to a wider range of conditions compared to the conventional lawn species. Most of them are low-height and slow growing.
Therefore, they need less mowing, and they are no mow lawn alternatives. For example, you can plant fescues that can deal with insect and other factors. Another option is clovers and trefoils that can fix nitrogen. By planting different species, the more benefits, you can take.
If you want to get more benefits, it is better to plant several species that go well with your climate, soil pH, soil type, and the amount of shade in your lawn. Therefore, you should observe your garden first before purchasing any species.
We suggest you have a mix of drought-tolerant, cool-and- warm-season species to offer some greenery in all summer with less watering. The best part is to create a combination of fescues, broadleaf species, and other grasses. For the broadleaf plants, the suitable options are clover, vetches, or trefoils.
Up to now, there is no formula to maintenance lawn mix, for example mixing with creeping thyme lawn. Generally, the guideline is 40% for the fescues, 405 for other grasses and 20% for broadleaf species.
What you need to do is to adjust the percentages based on your needs. For instance, if you are living in a place with the challenge of regular intensive activity, you should reduce the fescue percentage as your lawn replacement options.
2. A Low Maintenance Lawn Installation
It is essential to find the best locations for your lawn by assessing the needs before planting the grass. If the lawn is not for specific activities, it is better to have other low maintenance lawn alternatives, for example, meadows, groundcover plants, and woodlands. Besides, flat areas for your lawn are easier and better to maintain compared to shady, narrower, and slopes lawn.
To begin with, loosen the top for 10 to 15 cm by using a spade or pitchfork. If you choose species for your site, you need few soil amendments. The amendments also work best for some species mixes, or soils with poor quality.
Anytime you need a help testing and amending your soil; you can see the CMHC’s About Your House fact sheet. After picking the soil amendments, continue by spreading the material and work into the soil with the depth about 10 cm. Use a rake to smooth the surface.
After preparing the bed, the best thing to do is seeding or sodding. Do it immediately as the delay can lead some unwanted weeds to migrate in the site. Besides, delaying the procedure will also lead to erosion due to the bare soil.
The best time to seed is in spring or fall. If you sow in spring, the seedlings have tight competition from weeds. For sodding, put it down in May. Alternatively, you can sod in early to mid-fall.
You have sod or seed supplier that can be the best source to ask about the details for the right time to install. In some cases, you cannot avoid seeding or plant sod, especially in summer, which means extra watering required.
Also, the supplier may recommend you to spread the seeds based on the seeding rate uniformly. For you who seed by hand, it is better to scatter half the seed while going in one direction and continue for the rest by walking in the other. You can spread the seed better by mixing the seed with sand.
To start, you can use a rake to incorporate the seed into the soil and roll the area gently to make sure that there is an excellent soil-to-seed contact. If you are working with fine seed, it is better not to rolling them because some grass seeds may crush. It is better to use a straw blanket as loose straw may contain weed seed.
You need to water your seeded lawn for every day if the rain does not come. Or, you can water the lawn for three to six weeks until it is established. This is essential to moisten the surrounding soil, but water lightly. Too much force during watering will dislodge the seedlings.
You should not walk on the lawn before everything is established. Besides, you do not have to water your lawn if you seed late in the fall, but you must if you plant in the spring when the rainfall is not enough. Do not mowing if the grass is less than 6 cm.
Installing a low-maintenance lawn surely is the ideal choice if you want low water lawn alternatives.
To keep your lawn and soil healthy with less mowing, watering, pesticide-using, and fertilizing, you can use these tips even though you have conventional gardens with low-maintenance species. To get more information about installing and maintaining lawns, you can read more about CMHC’s Landscape Guide for Canadian Homes.
As we explained above that low-maintenance lawn does not need as frequent mowing as conventional lawns. Mow if the height is about 6 to 8 cm to strengthen the root, help retain nutrients and water. Clippings should be finely chopped if you use a mulching mower to prevent matting and to increase the water or the air movement. A push mower saves electricity consumption and less noisy. Never go with dull blades for your mover since it will bring more heat stress and disease to the grass.
For new lawns, keep the soil moist until it is established. After that, select the species according to your site’s moisture conditions. Mostly, the species are drought-tolerant. They can dormant and then turn brown. When cooler, moister, they are able to revive. To achieve greenery in all season, you should include some warm period as well as broadleaf species for your mix lawns. CMHC’s About Your House fact sheet provides you Water-Saving Tips For Lawn and Garden to read.
A low-maintenance lawn does not need much fertilizer. Therefore, if your lawn is established, you can apply a non-synthetic amendment like compost to grow the root and to increase the soil quality. It is better to use the soil amendment selectively especially if the lawn comes with difficulty growing problems. Do not over-fertilize your lawn since it can be dangerous for the life of some species. The more nutrient you give, the more water and mow to provide.
– Controlling Pest
There are several things to do when it is about controlling pests. First, make sure that the grass is about 6 to 8 cm high to reduce the weed invasions because the soil is not exposed. Also, the height is ideal to resist the stress of heat. Second, keep your lawn from pests or pest damage.
You should identify the pest, learn about the pest, what they like and what the dislikes. If their arrival continues to an unacceptable level, treat them immediately.
So, those are the steps you can do from first to the end if you are planning to have a low maintenance lawn. Another option to do is to have creeping thyme lawn.
Some Alternatives Of The Ground Covers And The Price
Below are the grass alternatives for lawns to complete your needs.
1. Turf Grass
Cool-season grasses need extra watering during summer, and warm season grasses like Bermuda grass goes for less water. It provides cooling and reduces temperature.
Cost: $3 per square foot (including installation) for cool season grass, and $3.50 for warm-season.
2. Synthetic Grass
Known as the artificial grass, you can use as your grass lawn alternatives. It is like a natural grass but the best types to consider is nylon, polypropylene, and polyethylene.
Cost: Depends on the type, polypropylene is the cheapest option, but less durable. $12-$15 per foot (including labor)
It can be your lawn replacement ground cover because it can be your alternative to grass lawns, to protect from erosion, protect the root system, moisture retention, to control weed, and to deal with heat retention. It is ideal choice to create pathways through your yard if the landscape has flower or rock gardens.
4. California Native Plants
California native plants help you to save water, well most of them. They provide an excellent cooling system.
Cost: $3.75-$18 per square foot (including the labor)
They can replace grass in your lawn, without watering requirement and provides the heating system for the yard.
Cost: $3.50 per square foot (excluding labor)
Alternative to: concrete (pavement)
It is the safe choice if you cannot deal with pests, and bees love them so much.
As a ground cover, it is the perfect option for shady lawns or lawns with poor soil. They are perfect for those who do not want to mow frequently.
To get more inspirations, you can read “The Alternatives To Grass Lawns.”
Low Maintenance Lawn – Having Creeping Thyme Lawn
Creeping thyme lawn is more than just drought-resistant, but the lawn requires less water compared to turf grasses. However, planting the lawn can be pricey, but it helps you to save your cost for maintenance.
In addition, most thyme species can deal with light foot traffic as below:
– Elfin Thyme
– Red creeping thyme for red creeping thyme lawn
– Wooly Thyme
It is possible to plant different kinds of thymes to create a border for your yard.
If you want to apply it to the existing lawn, there are some steps to do:
1. Clear the garden from the existing grass
2. Cover the area with cardboard, black plastic, or newspapers. Then, cover it with straw or sawdust to make a lasagna garden.
3. Remove big chunks of rock and root before transplanting the thyme plugs.
4. Add some bone meal or rock phosphate, together with some compost to the soil.
5. Ensure the thyme plants are damp. Plant the thyme with 8 inches apart. Water them we
Those are all about low maintenance lawn from designing to maintenance that worth enough if you replace it to your conventional lawn.
Low maintenance lawn saves everything that is essential for our life. We can protect the environment, conserve more water, use fewer pesticides, and others.