Saturday, May 24, 2008

Reasons to reduce your lawn. And some alternatives.

My like of lawn is non-existent. They use a lot of resources best used elsewhere. I personally reckon that couch grass should be banned from sale. It destroys many gardens by taking over and forces people to use chemicals to destroy it. There are some better non-toxic (to humans) herbicides these days but its still a hassle when your precious waterwise plantings get invaded by poxy couch.

Fertiliser use: Lawns need to be fed to look green. If you use too much fertiliser the plants can't use it and in our thin sands the excess can get washed down into the water table or into the river system causing algal blooms.

Chemicals and weedkillers: Ditto for the above reasons with the added bonus of being toxic and using the wrong ones can do more harm than good.

Petrol: to power the lawnmower.

Time: having to spend precious weekend time mowing must be a hassle. Surely.

There are alternative plants you can grow that will take foot traffic including:
Lippia (Phyla nodiflora): this can be weedy as it spreads by stolons, so goes where it wants but its much easier to control than lawn species and doesn't need to be mowed.
Dichondra repens is good for shady areas that will get watered. It's soft and cool but not hugely tough for daily use.

There are MANY very pretty other plants, including Grevillea species that can be used in areas where groundcover is needed but won't be walked over.
These are some Aussie species.
Grevillea nudiflora - low growing with little red flowers.
Myoporum parvifolium - flat plant with tiny white flowers. Spreads to about 2 metres wide. The cultivar M. parvifolium 'purpureum' has a purplish tinge to the foliage and is tough enough to use where a car will be parked (according to Sabrina Hahn, who recommended it as such).
Hemiandra pungens - prickly groundcover with pretty pink or white flowers. Local Perth species.

Edible groundcovers include many species of thyme, oregano, strawberries, sweet potato, nasturtium (they can take over a bit though).

If you don't use your lawn, maybe consider getting rid of at least some of it. Plants will reduce the heat island effect as much as grass will, they will absorb more carbon and use a lot less of your time and money to look good. Plus they provide habitat and or food.
Go on. Kill your lawn!!

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