If your yard has a large expanse of grass, you know how much work and how many resources it takes to keep it looking pristine. Wouldn’t it be great to have a low-maintenance and eco-friendly yard?
It may seem difficult to find alternatives that are both low-maintenance and eco-friendly. Not only are you redesigning your yard, but also your mindset. Make your yard work for you, so that the work you put into it saves you the money that you’ve already worked for, instead of simply costing you more money and time.
Explore all aspects of the options available to you. For instance, making and using compost sounds like a lot of work when you first research it. If you look further instead of getting turned off by that work, you can find alternatives to the compost pile, like vermiculture or composting barrels that make the work easy.
Draw out a grid of your yard noting which portions are more shady or sunny, what type or types of soil you have, and what contours the ground has. You don’t want to plant something that likes sun and dry soils in an area where it will be in the shade or in a puddle when it rains.
Having this grid will also help you decide where it will be best to put your composter, barrels for rain-catchment, paths, and benches.
Divide your yard into sections that are more manageable. By having variety, you can work in small sections in a piecemeal fashion, rather than feel defeated before you start when you see a huge expanse that requires the same repetitive motion maintenance throughout. Instead of using grass, have plots of different plants and ground covers.
Clover and alfalfa require very little maintenance and are nitrogen-fixers, which can improve soil conditions. Moss is a soft and lovely filler for shady areas.
Growing food does not require a large garden plot. Use containers where appropriate for easy relocation when necessary and to raise the plants to your level for weeding to reduce the strain on your body. Install cold frames in your yard, which are like small greenhouses that allow you to grow hardy, healthy greens during colder times of the year.
Instead of fighting weeds in your yard, give them a couple of sections to grow. They do anyway, so they will not need a lot of encouragement, and many weeds, like dandelions, plaintains, and chicory, have edible and medicinal uses and have a lovely appearance.
Research other plants to discover what will grow happily in your yard’s conditions and climate.
Subdivide these sections with stone paths for an organized look and have a couple stone-covered areas to set benches or patio furniture on.
Find people that are interested in helping you with yardwork in exchange for the food or flowers that you are growing. If you or a friend has a pet rabbit or rodent, regularly set their cage on your clover or weed patch to cut back on mowing.
Planning, plotting, and partnering will help you employ numerous eco-friendly methods for maintaining your yard. At the same time, you can cut costs and effort, and share your yard’s beauty and bounty with your neighbors.
Photo Credit: Garden Preparations by OakleyOriginals/ flickr; Gone Green by Michael Gil/flickr
Casey Stevens is a landscaper and really enjoys making over family yards that incorporate environmental-conscious choices. If you’re interested in a landscape business, check out the listings for a used dump truck or maybe you could use a box truck for your next project.