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The Lawn Goodbye
For the past two weeks, I've outlined the steps to maintaining a vibrant, healthy, all-organic lawn. But maybe you’re not in love with your lawn, or maybe you just want less of it. Here are some alternative approaches to those swaths of green that you might consider:
• Plant lower-maintenance, slower-growing turfgrasses. They won’t ever give you the finely manicured look of traditional turfgrasses, but they’ll make up for it by requiring much less water and maintenance. Some grow so slowly that they almost never need mowing—as little as once or twice per season, or, if you really like the natural look, not at all.
• Plant grass/flower seed mixes. They’re also slower growing and they require less mowing.
• Decrease your lawn area by adding a patio or a deck, or adding or increasing the size of garden beds. Fill them with a variety of plants—trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs—for added beauty and to attract a range of wildlife to your yard (also a good way to boost your yard’s biodiversity).
• Plant lower-maintenance groundcovers. This is an especially good solution for areas where grass struggles to grow, such as shady spots and slopes.
Xeriscaping—switching out moisture-hungry grass for drought-tolerant plants and materials—is another good lawn alternative. It’s more common in the desert Southwest where water is at a premium, but it can be done virtually anywhere, as it also emphasizes the use of native plants.
Show your commitment to going chemical free on your lawn by signing the SafeLawns Million Acre Challenge at www.SafeLawns.org. There are more than 40 million acres of turf in the United States; SafeLawns is committed to converting one million of them to eco-friendly yards by 2010 by spreading the word on the benefits of environmentally responsible lawn care and gardening. When you sign the SafeLawns Million Acre Challenge pledge, you’re showing your commitment to caring for your lawn in an eco-friendly way, including eliminating synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, using a push and/or electric mower, and watering and planting responsibly.
Excerpted with permission from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Organic Living by Eliza Sarasohn with Sonia Weiss.