Having open space in your backyard gives you a great place to entertain, play, and feel at ease. However traditional lawns require a lot of maintenance, fertilizer, and water. While lawns are more viable in wetter climates, in this drought prone part of the country we can not afford to waste so much water on these high need grass lawns.
So are there ways to get rid of that traditional lawn but still have open space in your yard for all the activities that they are good for? In fact there is! There are many alternatives to the lawn that require less maintenance and use less water. Here are our top three!
Number one on our list is Kurapia. Kurapia is a fantastic lawn alternative that requires little water after it has been established. It grows in a thick dense habit, and is a flowering plant, producing a small white flower from May thru November. It can be mowed for a more manicured look but Kurapia will hardly ever grow above 1 inch tall. We love this ground cover lawn alternative because it stays green year round, can withstand a variety of temperatures from hot summers to chilly nights, and is sturdy and holds up well against foot traffic. It is important not to over water Kurapia once it has established, but in the first few weeks after planting it will need regular irrigation. Kurapia is our number one choice for lawn alternatives because it looks and acts just like a traditional grass lawn but is more sustainable and friendly towards our climate here in California.
Another green alternative to the traditional lawn is a Carex or Sedge meadow. Using the right species and planting correctly, sedges can function like a traditional lawn without the need for mowing and chemical fertilizers. Some species do great in drought-tolerant conditions and some love shade and a moist environment, so it is important to know your site and select the right species of sedge for your lawn. Our personal favorite species of sedge to use in lawns is Carex praegracilis because it can tolerate a variety of soil conditions, temperatures, and holds up well to foot traffic. Mowing a couple times a year keeps the foliage low, tight, and lawn like. Unmowed, it makes a meadow which looks great and will stay green year round!
Coming in third on our list of lawn alternatives is Dymondia. This small attractive plant is great for creating a nice expanse of green or filling in the cracks between flagstone pavers. Native to the west coast of South Africa this plant is adapted to our climate and is deep rooted making it drought-tolerant. It has nice silvery foliage and in the summers produces small yellow flowers. It does best in full sun to partial-shade and in well-drained soils. This is a great plant for those spaces that don’t get a lot of foot traffic but you still want to have a low growing open area.
There are quite a few other alternatives to traditional lawns, each with individual characteristics that could make them suitable for your landscape. If you would like more information on lawn alternatives, feel free to give us a shout.