Lawns are a feature of many gardens, but they can be expensive and time-consuming to maintain. Weeds often find their way into a lawn so pesticides are needed along with constant vigilance. The cost of buying and maintaining a lawnmower can be high, and lawns usually need to be well watered, especially in hot sunny areas, or the grass leaves turn brown and the lawn looks patchy. Because of this, many gardeners are looking to alternative methods for covering the areas traditionally occupied by a lawn.
For small or medium-sized areas of lawn, you can replace grass with clover. Dutch White Clover is the best variety to use for ground cover as it grows low to the ground and only grows to a height of 4 to 8 inches during germination. Clover has the benefit of needing little water, so that in all but very dry and hot areas, you will not need to water clover. Clover also grows as a tightly packed plant that strangles out weeds as it spreads. It never needs mowing and does not need artificial fertilisers to maintain it in good health.
Ornamental Grasses, Flowers and Shrubs
Replace at least a part of the lawn with areas of ornamental grasses, and for visual effect, break up the areas of ornamental grass with beds of flowers or shrubs. Ornamental grasses are not like lawn grass as they often grow in clumps and have long, tapering leaves of varying shades. Blue Fescue is a good choice of ornamental grass to use as a lawn replacement, as it is not a tall plant, reaching a height of 6 inches to a foot. When planting flower beds to replace lawn areas, it is a good idea to select plants that are low-growing and spread quickly. Good ground-cover flowering plants include Bishop's Weed and Juniper.
Artificial turf can be used to cover any area of ground and has the advantage of being very low maintenance once laid. All that it needs is to have the infill material topped up and raked when the artificial grass blades are seen to be falling flat. Infill material often consists of crumbled rubber particles and is used to ensure that grass blades stand upright and give the artificial surface the springy feel of natural turf. Artificial turf is not often chosen to cover lawn areas in household gardens, but it can be used in small areas that get little light, such as the courtyards at the rear of some town houses and even on apartment balconies.