But today, we want to tackle the traditional garden and suggest a replacement for the traditional lawn too in our best grass alternatives list. And no, we’re not suggesting artificial grass. That’s a lawn alternative too far.
Why Not Lawns?
Lawns are brilliant and nothing beats the feel of grass under your feet.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get the same sort of feeling while being kinder to your wallet and to the planet.
A lawn alternative can be every bit as good at providing ground cover and it can also be low maintenance even if you have poor soil in your outdoor space.
You can’t completely replace a lawn with ornamental grasses but you can cut down the size of the lawn by using them for borders and edges. It’s one of the best low-maintenance lawn alternatives.
You never need to mow ornamental grasses as they stay in a distinctive shape and most of them don’t spread out over time either – they form a clump and that’s it.
They’re the easiest of the lawn alternatives to employ in many ways. They are also native plants and native grasses, so you don’t need to worry about causing damage to the local environment.
However, if you walk over them – ornamental grasses are likely to curl up and die. So, don’t. They’re fine with surrounding plants, mind you, just not foot traffic.
Yes, Creeping Charlie is a weed and most people spend a lot of time trying to kill this plant for having the temerity to appear in their yard.
Yet, it’s a very good species to use to replace parts of your lawn with. It’s one of the hardiest ground cover plants that we know of.
It requires almost no care at all – no watering, no fertilizer, no mowing, nothing. It’s fine in moist soil but it’s also quite drought tolerant. It is the epitome of low maintenance lawn alternatives, in fact. It’s also find in full sun!
You can run through it with glee too – it’s every bit as hard-wearing as standard lawn grass. Foot traffic is like water off a duck’s back to this plant.
It smells great (as it’s part of the mint family) and you’ll find it more than comfortable enough to sit on too.
But, it spreads like wildfire if you let it – so, you need to create a nice big (and totally impermeable border) around wherever you plant it.
Mosses are possibly the easiest way to replace a large chunk of your lawn. And there are huge advantages to doing so.
Moss never needs any mowing. It needs next to no water. It’s incredibly varied too and you can pick from a massive range of different mosses to get the exact look you like or mix and match a few to create interesting effects.
It’s also really easy to plant. You can walk on moss though it’s not as durable as a grass lawn is but it will happily withstand occasional foot traffic.
However, moss thrives in the shade rather than direct sunlight – so, make certain that it’s got a bit of cover, partial shade is mandatory. Moss lawns are no-mow lawns and they can be allowed to run right up to your flower beds just like grass lawns.
You can eat sweet woodruff (it has a sort of vanilla-like taste) and it smells gorgeous. It was, in fact, once the main ingredient in natural air fresheners. Yes, edible landscaping!
It also makes a good lawn substitute for some good reasons.
Firstly, it can’t be bothered by weeds, it just shrugs off their malign resistance and blocks them from spreading into your garden. Lawn replacement is super easy when you know how.
You never need to mow it because it’s short and mostly it needs no watering too.
However, rather like mosses the best place for sweet woodruff is in the shade as it doesn’t get on well with direct sunlight.
Red Creeping Thyme
If you want a spectacular carpet on your lawn in the early part of the summer, why not add some Red Creeping Thyme to the mix?
It is fairly evergreen (though it pales in winter months) and it’s very hardy underfoot or for laying on.
It needs almost no water in most conditions which can be important for water conservation.
You will never need to mow it, either.
However, there are two big downsides to this substitute.
Firstly, it’s a real pain to plant.
To get it down, you have to kill off what’s already there and then replace it with the thyme.
Secondly, it’s pretty expensive – so you might want to use it sparingly.
Our final pick is clover. It’s very affordable and it’s ridiculously good for the soil as it adds lots of nitrogen to the mix.
You’ll find it spreads everywhere you want it fast.
And it requires very little effort – almost no watering, absolutely no mowing (unless you want to), and no fertilizer (as it might actually kill the clover rather than nourish it).
There are no real downsides of using clover which is hardy enough to handle most things you throw at it.
Last Word on Grass Alternatives
So, there you have it, our best grass alternate choices and each of them can help you cut down on how much you spend on your lawn and the harm that it causes the planet.
Another way that you can reduce your environmental footprint is to move into a tiny home, why not check out our guide to doing that?