While most people wax poetic about the smell of freshly cut grass, there are few out there who actually enjoy the task of cutting it. That’s why the phrase “no-mow grass” could convince virtually anyone to give up their sod in favour of a low-maintenance alternative.
Getting rid of your mower isn’t the only benefit. Although similar figures don’t exist in Canada, researchers at the University of Montana estimate that lawns in the United States cover some 128,000 square kilometres, making them the single largest irrigated crop in the country. Hundreds of litres of water are needed to keep these yards green and once you factor in the additional environmental costs—including fertilizer, pesticides, weed killers, and the fuel needed for mowing—lawns don’t seem, well, quite that green.
Here are five eco-friendly grass alternatives that are just as beautiful—and much easier to maintain.
When is a weed not a weed? When it looks as pretty as clover. This plant cover is essentially self-fertilizing; it absorbs nitrogen from the air and deposits it into the ground. Its deep roots mean that it needs little watering, and it only requires the occasional trim. While clover is not quite as durable as grass (so probably not your best option if you’re a bocce enthusiast), it is impervious to Fido’s frequent bathroom breaks. Microclover, a newer variety, is particularly popular for its soft stems, smaller flowers, and dense leaf structure.
Replacing your lawn doesn’t have to mean saying goodbye to grass entirely. Instead, we’d like to introduce you to fescue. With thin blades that fold over on themselves, this grass species only requires mowing about once a month. It does well in shade or sun, requires little watering, and is kid-friendly. However, fescue does have a tendency to grow in clumps, which results in a much less manicured appearance than that of a conventional lawn.
Native grasses or meadows
Taking care of your lawn is often an endless fight against what nature intended. So why not let nature win this round? We’re not suggesting that you admit total defeat and allow the weeds to run rampant. Instead, create a beautiful sea of wild grasses and flowers by planting varieties that are indigenous to your region. These vary across Canada, but some examples may include wild strawberry, asters, and coneflowers.
If your yard has acidic soil and is moist and shady, then moss will add the perfect shade of green—and just the right amount of whimsy. In the proper environment, moss doesn’t require watering, fertilizer, or mowing. But while moss can handle occasional footsteps, it isn’t cut out for heavy traffic, so you’ll need to install stone pathways down to all your favourite spots, like the lake.
Don’t worry, you’re not going to end up with a yard that looks like a mini putt. (Unless that’s what you’re going for, of course. No judgement here.) Today’s artificial turfs look like real grass and are soft to the touch. With the ability to last for 15 years, they’re perfect for young families that love spending time playing in the yard. However, artificial grasses don’t boast any of the environmental benefits of plants, and there is some maintenance. You’ll likely need to rake or even vacuum the surface on a regular basis to remove any organic debris.