When it comes to conversations about the environment, most people talk about; fossil fuels, pollution, or carbon emissions. These are big issues, however, it can be difficult for individuals to go about addressing them.
But what if there was another big issue right in your backyard? Yes – we mean that literally. Lawn care has an enormous environmental impact, especially in the United States, where the country is full of homes with large, green lawns. In the U.S., an estimated 9 billion gallons of water are used to water lawns every day. And that’s not even considering the fuel consumption and carbon emissions coming from lawnmowers or the enormous amounts of pesticides and herbicides dumped on yards all year round.
Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent grass alternatives for your lawn, no matter where you live. Let’s go over some of them for each climate!
Grass Alternatives for Arid Climates
Xeriscaping is a landscaping method particularly well suited to hot and dry climates. By focusing on drought-tolerant plants and incorporating natural rock features and mulch, xeriscaped yards use a drastically less amount of water than a typical grass lawn. Common plants in xeriscaping are wildflower, cacti, mexican feather grass, succulents, sedum, aloe vera, and related plants.
- Low maintenance
- Doesn’t require mowing
- Uses a low amount of water
- Takes more planning and care in setup
- Irrigation systems or landscaping features may be costly
- Reduces the ability for children and pets to play in the same way as they would on a typical grass lawn
Grass Alternatives for Cold Climates
In cooler climates, plants will be subjected to less rain, sun, and moisture. Moss is a delightful ground cover that creates a lush, soft, smooth surface. It doesn’t tolerate full sun or hot temperatures well, but it is an excellent option for cool, humid climates that don’t get a lot of direct sunlight.
Moss is also easily damaged. While it can create a stunning appearance in any yard, it’s best enjoyed from afar. If you tread on the moss regularly, it will die.
- No mowing required
- No fertilizer required
- Comes in many varieties
- Requires frequent watering
- Doesn’t tolerate sunny conditions
- Can be damaged relatively easily
Grass Alternatives for Promoting Biodiversity
A mix of clover and wildflowers will attract a wide range of bees and other insect pollinators to your yard. This is essential for promoting biodiversity. Not only will you be contributing to increasing the amount of plant and animal life in your local area, but clover and wildflowers are also an excellent way to prevent erosion and manage stormwater runoff. In addition, you’ll be treated to pretty, delicate flower blooms throughout the year.
- Doesn’t require fertilization
- Drought tolerant
- Beneficial to pollinators and other insects and animals
- Improves the quality of your soil
- Requires mowing if you want to keep it short
- Clover can be invasive in certain areas and spreads fast
- This type of lawn attracts bees, which can be dangerous to people with allergies
If you want to make an immediate positive impact on the environment, this is a feasible way to do so. By replacing grass in your yard, you also increase your local biodiversity. Trade your grassy lawn for one of the alternatives listed above and watch the benefits compound and unfold!
If you’d like to read more about food forests, permaculture, and other related topics, check out the other posts on our blog!