PEOPLE chatted with sustainable landscaping expert Derek Carwood all about his low maintenance lawn tips
It’s the season of barbecues, pool parties, outdoor adventures and for many, lots and lots of lawn care.
For anyone who struggles with maintaining picture perfect grass during the busy summer months —whether it’s the man’s power of constant mowing or the sky-rocketing water bill — this secret lawn might be a lifesaver: overseeing with an alternative lawn material.
What does that mean? Sustainable landscaping expert and Greenwood Horticulture founder David Carwood explains that sprinkling a mix of seeds that includes different ground cover and low native plants to your existing grass can create a lush, green look that is a low maintenance alternative to a traditional lawn. For first-timers, he recommends using what’s called a perennial mix — plants like creeping thyme, clover and English daisies — which can be found in most garden centers.
“A lot of folks have this idea in their head that alternative lawns mean a weedy landscape, or that they’re going to be high maintenance,” Carwood explains, “but basically what you’re seeing is a little more texture and color. “
“They are different,” he added, “but they have huge benefits for the environment and save homeowners water, money and time.”
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It’s not an instant fix for patchy grass, he says, but it works well in the long game: “Over the course of a couple of years, it starts to grow and spread. And that way it’s a steady change. It’s something that people get used to over time — including your neighbors.”
Carwood recommends using a ready-made seed mix to make the process even easier, with options from OPN Seed and Twin City Seed Co. being some of his favourites.
He also advises that homeowners avoid using herbicides on lawn alternatives because “they will kill off bulbs and other perennials planted in the lawn.” While some weeds may spring up, “they can be easily removed” and would be the same amount that regular lawns have, he adds.
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Another alternative lawn option is buffalo grass, which is “a North American native and has a wispy, cottage feel to it,” Carwood says. Although, unlike overseeing, it does require you to wipe out your existing lawn and start from scratch. But once in place, you most likely won’t have to water it at all or even mow it depending on the region you live in.
Another start-from-scratch option Carwood endorses is a full clover lawn. He warns that clover dies early and grows back later in the season, so “for parts of the year in the fall and the spring you’re going to basically have what looks like a dirt patch.” This is why he recommends using a varied seed mix that incorporates clover so there is always something growing.
A prairie style is another idea for homeowners. It uses a mix of grasses and forbs (herbaceous flowering plants) and can grow up to four feet tall, so it creates a more wild garden look.
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In addition to being better for the environment because of the lack of fertilizer and excessive water needed, many alternative lawns also produce flowers that create a great habitat for essential pollinators, an essential part of any healthy outdoor environment.
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