Grass Lawn AlternativesPosted 10/16/2014
The smell of freshly cut grass often has a nostalgic effect on many people, bringing them back to their childhood when life was a little simpler. A time when soccer practice or t-ball games were the extent of the weekend’s responsibilities — ah, those were the days.
If you’re like most Arizonans, though, keeping up with a grass lawn in the desert is not as blissful as it might sound. Lawns can not only be an exhausting task to maintain, but tough on your budget too. All of the water it takes to keep wet-climate greens healthy in one of the country’s hottest and driest environments is no small feat for your wallet, and has a big impact on the environment, too. But cutting out the grass completely doesn’t always mean your lawn will lose appeal. In fact, there are many alternatives to a turf grass lawn that are not only easier to maintain but better suited for our wonderful desert climate. Here’s a few to keep in mind:
Build a Private Retreat: A yard should be a place where you can decompress or unwind from the rush of daily life. A place to enjoy time alone or with friends and family. So instead of breaking your back every Saturday morning watering and mowing your lawn, turn your yard into a private retreat. Add cobblestones, lay pavers or extend your patio with a concrete outdoor living space. For those cool nights, add a fire pit in the center of your yard, where you and your family can gather and spend time together. It’s your retreat, so try to imagine what would help you escape. Is it a fountain? A shaded gazebo? Or maybe you just want something simple like a hammock that’s easily accessible by a small pebble pathway.
Grow Low-Maintenance Plants: If you’re spending too much time maintaining a certain part of your yard (i.e. the lawn), maybe it’s time to let it go. Try replacing the grass with native plants that don’t require a lot of water or compete with trees and the surrounding plants, but actually thrive together. Some great plants to keep in mind for a desert oasis include any species of bird of paradise, desert sage, little-leaf cordia or some hop bush, just to name a few. For those who don't want the desert look and prefer plants that may require more water, surround them with deep gravel paths instead of grassy walkways. This will allow the water to drain freely and doesn’t require the weekly maintenance that grassy walkways demand.
Overseed with Drought-Tolerant Grasses: For those of us who just love the look of a grass lawn, overseeding with clover is a great way to transform your existing lawn into a low-maintenance lawn. Falling under the category of “wanted weeds,” clover has deep roots, making it less thirsty and more drought tolerant. It also absorbs nitrogen from the air and deposits it into the ground, providing nutrition without the need for fertilizers.
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