aromatic aster
Aromatic Aster, photo from Tennessee Smart Yards

Getting and keeping an ideal yard can take a lot of time as well as wreak havoc on the environment. Fertilizers end up in streams and lakes where they kill fish and aquatic grasses, herbicides poison drinking water, lawnmowers drink up gasoline and pollute the environment and lawns can use a lot of water. According to elementalgreen.com, most lawns require about 1.5 inches of water per week just to survive!” Aware of these issues, a variety of options for easy care lawns are gaining attention.

Maintaining a golf-course like turf lawn requires lots of work, but there are a few options on ways to have beautiful landscaping without mowing several times a week, having an extensive fertilizing program, or constantly watering.

photo: Goat Turf Facebook

1Install a Synthetic Turf Lawn

Synthetic lawns look and act much like the real thing, but require no mowing and little maintenance, with many having lifetime warranties. Goat Turf, which uses SYNLawn products, is just like grass after installation, except better. It is antimicrobial, anti-static and has a E108 fire rating. It drains over 100 inches per hour and always looks perfect.

Having a SYNLawn saves time with no more need to mow the yard and saves precious resources because there is no need to water, fertilize, or even own lawn equipment. It is made of 70% soy-based polyol instead of 100% petroleum based, and other recycled materials, like coal ash. And there are different products based on usage, for example they have a special product if you have pets, and another if you want to have a back yard putting green.

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2Replace Grass with Low Maintenance Beds

Another way to decrease required mowing is to turn yard space into low-maintenance landscaped areas. The Tennessee Smart Yards program can help homeowners decide where and how to create the low-maintenance yard and landscaping they desire.

One thing to remember when trading grass for beds is that they also require maintenance. Beds will require mulching, pruning, leaf raking and deadheading. And the more plants you add, the more work they will require. Low maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance.

“A lawn or garden that requires minimal care and effort will be one that has plants which needs match the site’s characteristics,” said Rutherford County Extension Agent Rachel Painter. “So, the first step to creating a lawn or garden that is minimal care will be a site assessment- evaluating the light, water, and space available for a plant to thrive. Then, you may begin planning and designing the landscape based on the site characteristics and your goals or needs for that particular area.”

Painter also suggests considering the amount of time required to build the landscaped area, and if it will require hiring a landscape designer and landscaping crew to build it and care for it.

There are a number of plant choices that are easy care, beautiful, and environmentally friendly. Local gardeners suggest ornamental grasses, flower beds using wildflowers and native plants, and/or shrub beds.

Mist Flower – Photo Courtesy Katie Walberg via Tennessee Smart Yards

3Change Your Concept of the Perfect Lawn

Another concept is to allow clover, wild strawberries, and other natural plants to grow in yards along with grass. In other words, let your grass ‘go natural’.

There are also low maintenance lawn care options that can be beneficial to the environment like choosing to mulch leaves verses raking, allowing for the recycling of nutrients into the soil. Leaves can also be composted for use in the beds, as can grass clippings.

Deciding to do less in the yard and in the garden often means finding new ways to do things. As it says in the Smart Yard Workbook, “By adopting these simple actions, you can save time and money, make your yard the best it can be, and protect Tennessee’s water resources.”

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