Green Lawn Alternatives

by Jenny Robinson

Lawn maintenance is a summer staple, from weekend mowing and mulching to planting and trimming flowers. 

Although grass lawns are ubiquitous across the United States and much of the world, they are not always great for the environment as they are a leading cause of water overuse. Plus, most lawns are planted with grasses that are not native to an area, which means they limit the biodiversity and fertility of the soil and destroy native habitats. 

In an effort to craft a more environmentally friendly lawn, here are a few surprising (and surprisingly beautiful) alternative lawn options. 

1. Avoid non-native grasses
If you’re in an area with a lawn code or regulations, consider planting a grass that is native to your area instead of the popular non-native grasses. Typically, grasses that are used for lawns in the United States are Kentucky Bluegrass, Bahia grass and Fescue grass. 

None of these grasses are native to North America and all require excess watering. In fact, most grass lawns are currently made up of invasive species and contribute to the large amount of water waste that is used on maintaining landscaping each year. Instead of planting a European grass, consider planting one that is native to your state, like Wild Rye, Gramma grass or Big Bluestem grass.

2. Plant a biodiverse lawn

One of the greatest negative impacts traditional grass lawns have on the environment is their lack of biodiversity, which can harm the ecosystem. In addition to a native grass, try planting a range of native plants. Not only will this be good for the soil, but it will benefit the entire ecosystem.

3. Clover lawns

If you like the look of an all-green lawn but want a more environmentally friendly yard, try planting clover instead of grass. It requires much less water and maintenance than grasses, is native to the Americas and it flowers, which is great for pollinators. Plus, it’s softer than grass.

4. Moss lawns

Providing that you’re in a climate that supports them, moss lawns are a great way to save water and promote biodiversity in a lawn. Multiple native mosses tend to grow mushrooms and other fungi, which attracts small wildlife species, making moss lawns a great way to create a micro ecosystem and promote healthy soil. 

Whatever you prefer, these are all good for the environment. Make sure to double check with local neighborhood associations or city guidelines before making any big landscaping plans, but if you’re able to switch it up, you will be making a positive environmental impact and lightening your lawn maintenance, too!

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