With summertime comes the need for yard work – it can’t be avoided! But, what if you could trim down the time you need to spend on your yard so that you could have more time to do other things instead? While everyone loves the look of a neatly mowed lawn trimmed with pretty flowers, there is a trend today towards conserving water and reducing the maintenance needs of a large yard. There are dozens of ways you can accomplish this, from quick-growing ground covers that need zero maintenance to replacing grass with different colored and sized stone.
Let’s look at five great ways to reduce your yard work chores.
1. Reduce the size of your lawn
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Grass is a needy plant. It requires fertilization and lots of water in order for it to grow into that lush, green carpet you love. And then there’s the weeding, trimming, and mowing…all that maintenance equals a lot of work for you! If you decrease the size of your lawn, you can decrease the time you spend maintaining it. In the process, you’ll also save money, energy, and water – all good things.
Does your community have homeowner’s rebates for reducing your lawn size? Some do, so check with your homeowner’s association (if applicable) to see if you’re eligible.
Reducing your lawn size can help in other areas as well. If you’re on a corner, you’ll notice less foot traffic cutting the corners of your yard if you replace the grass with a border of shrubs or perennials. Placing the plants close together will help get rid of weeds, and reduce your need to do that additional work. Or, replace the perimeter of your lawn with gravel or decorative pavers.
2. Utilize species native to your area
Get cozy with your local nurseries to find out what plants, grasses, shrubs, and flowers will do the best in your particular soil and climate. Native plants are much more likely to grow with very little attention needed, and this will save you time in the yard. Along with native species, think more along the lines of perennials instead of annuals, because they’ll come back year after year without you having to do any replanting.
And don’t forget about your local cooperative extension office! They’re full of ideas for growing species that are native to your area. More native plants equal less water and less time you need to spend maintaining the plants.
3. Plant a garden!
If you’re going to spend time outdoors, doesn’t it make sense to spend your time and energy growing something that you can eventually eat? Of course! You can easily turn part of your yard into a garden with raised beds. You can buy these beds ready-made at any home improvement store, or you can find hundreds of DIY plans online. Raised beds are easier to maintain than a traditional ground-level garden, and are very attractive when planned and planted correctly. Another raised bed benefit is that, since you add the soil to the raised bed, you know exactly what is in the soil that grows your vegetables. You can grow an abundance of vegetables in just one or two raised beds, and some people find gardening to be a relaxing, very zen-like hobby.
You can start planting with packaged seeds, or buy starter plants at a local greenhouse, and transplant them into your garden. When you eat what you’ve grown, you’ll never have to wonder about pesticides on your food, and you know exactly what is in the soil that they’re grown in.
If you don’t have room for raised beds, add some container gardens, wall-mountain gardens, or simply use large pots for the vegetables you love to eat the most!
4. Build an outdoor oasis
Creating an outdoor room to take the place of some of your lawn is a very worthwhile investment in the enjoyment of your surroundings. You can have an open-air room, or you can screen it in if insects are an issue. If you’re particularly handy, you can build your own furniture such as benches and tables, and create a fire pit from large stones, brick, or even cinder blocks. Your imagination is the only limit when it comes to how posh or how rustic you’d like your outdoor room to be. You might be happy with some log and twig furniture and a fire pit made from locally-sourced stones, or you might want an entire outdoor kitchen equipped with an outdoor oven, grill, comfortable seating area, and outdoor heaters. Just make sure any furniture you use in the room is water-resistant, and that all electronics such as stereo systems are housed away from moisture.
A beautiful fountain can add a peaceful element to your outdoor room. Listening to the sound of flowing water is relaxing and adds just a touch of background noise to mask other noises such as traffic or dogs barking.
5. Utilizing xeriscaping for drought resistance
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If you live in a drought-prone area, you probably already know what xeriscaping is. If you don’t, xeriscaping simply means utilizing drought-resistant native plants and grasses to landscape your yard, thereby reducing water consumption, and beautifying your property by using rock gardens to replace grass. If you live in an area where it rarely rains, xeriscaping might be just what you need to reduce your lawn care needs and help reduce your water usage on your property.
A properly xeriscaped yard can even raise the value of your property and greatly increase curb appeal. And xeriscaping doesn’t mean “zero-scaping”. You can still utilize certain species of flowers to add color to your surroundings while keeping your maintenance responsibilities next to nothing.