You love your garden, you get immense pleasure from pottering about, carrying out some light maintenance pruning and clipping, and more importantly sitting in it on a beautiful summer’s evening.
But you are beginning to admit to yourself that the work it needs is getting just a little bit too much. The lawn seems to grow at an alarming rate, and you are contemplating how best to cut down on the work without having to make any radical changes.
The lawn is usually the most work intensive element of a garden, so to help your decision process, we have highlighted some of our favourite alternatives for ground coverings – alternatives which require minimal maintenance but will still give you as much pleasure and enjoyment of your outside space as ever.
They might reduce the amount of lawn, but they won’t diminish the attractiveness of the garden.
Installing artificial grass will probably be the first option you consider when contemplating a lawn replacement. The benefits of a good quality artificial lawn are manifold. It is incredibly gentle underfoot, yet is also strong and resilient, and nearly impossible to damage.
Even more importantly, it requires very little maintenance. No more Sunday mornings breaking your back trying to get the lawn mower started, no more swearing at the dog digging holes for the bone then bringing muddy paw prints into the house.
You must make sure that the artificial lawn product you choose is of a premium quality. This means that any money you invest in its installation will be protected by a long term guarantee (usually they are about ten years). And don’t worry about the lush green colour fading – come rain or drought, the green fibres are UV stable so will never fade.
Reducing the Surface Area of Your Lawn
If you would rather keep a more natural garden, but still want to eliminate a lot of the work, you may want to investigate alternatives to grass such as low growing ground covers such as creeping thyme, sedum and creeping Jenny. These look particularly good at the edge of borders, so you could extend your flower borders and minimize the lawned area.
Clover is another alternative ground covering for a lawn. As well as being low growing, it is incredibly resilient, requires very little water and an occasional light mow just to keep it in check. Clover also fixes nitrogen back into the soil, which will benefit the surrounding plants and flowers.
You could also explore to option of sowing a wild flower garden, which will need some preparation, but once it has taken hold you can sit back and enjoy its natural beauty and implicit biodiversity benefits. While initial planting is best carried out in the spring, a wild flower garden will continue to feed birds and insects all year round.
With the existence of insects such as bees on the decline, any change you make to your garden to help feed the honey bees and will be a positive for your table, and the environment.
Creating Hardstanding Areas
If you know for sure that you need to significantly minimize all maintenance, and want to replace a certain proportion of the grassed area with a hardstanding alternative, there are some options which are more environmentally friendly than others.
Permeable pavers, for example, are becoming increasingly popular as they allow water to return back into the groundwater, maximizing water retention and reducing the amount of added watering tat might be needed during drier periods.