No mow lawns or low mow
Looking at alternatives to mowing. One I found was spraying a chemical on the whole yard to slow growth. Not a fan of that. Another is to think about the yard differently. One option is a clover field. Another is a grass that grows in clumps, the end result looks like a wavey sea. The last one I found is a grass that grows tall, but lays flat. It looks more like flowing water than grass. My soil type and yard are only good for the clover mix. The benefits are less mowing, more spaces for animals and bugs, and smaller carbon footprint. Here's some pics of the clover for an idea: https://www.opnseed.com/shop/clover-lawn-mix-130643
The clover idea is gorgeous. I can't stand mowing, and I have a huge yard which was completely full of sod when I first moved here. I'm on a mission to eliminate grass! Over the years some things I have done to minimize mowing:
- i turned over several big sections, uprooted sod, and planted wildflowers that are native to my region.
- the sidewalk strip is finally almost completely grass-free. Nodding onions and chives are there and they're just gorgeous, along with some paving stones here and there to indicate where to walk when folks get out of their cars. Both nodding onions and chives split really well - you can start with just some small plants and if you split them each year, you can fill out a surprisingly big space in just a few years.
- In one area near the front, I put cardboard down to kill the grass and then 3 inches or more of playground mulch on top of that. Playground mulch is nice for bare feet, it's soft. I have some potted plants there and my son's mini trampoline and my Adirondack chair where I sit and watch the world go by. And some pretty flags and adornments. this section got a lot of (positive) attention from neighbors when I put it in.
- i installed 3 raised beds
- I created a rock/gravel garden
- I got the segments of tree trunk from various neighbors taking trees down. Then I created a kind of snaking wall that goes through the side garden. I put cardboard beneath the logs and mulch around to keep weeds down. These pieces of wood are about 2 to 3 feet across, so the "wall" takes up a good amount of space. Another plus for me as a parent is that children like balancing from log to log to log, it's the most attractive play feature in my yard I would say. They give each other challenges and play all kinds of make-believe with that "wall." You could do another version of that with tree trunk "cookies,' they are like stepping "stones" which are just slices of tree trunk. A bed of gravel with some tree cookies immersed in it is very charming.
- I have patches of creeping thyme, which are really nice, but in my climate they don't really turn green until pretty late in the spring. I wouldn't cover my whole lawn with creeping thyme unless the lawn were quite small.
- I'm working on creating new wildflower sections and a gravel area for my son to play in with his toy trucks and excavators.
each of these has been a lot of work to get set up. But, each year I have less and less mowing to deal with. I think in the next 3 or 4 years I'll be done -- my vision is just pathways, garden beds, wildflower patches, and play areas-- once that is in place my yard will just need weeding. I love weeding, but actually I don't have much of it to do now that everything is so established. In a few years my yard will be sooooo easy! And the vegetable gardens do take a lot of water, but other than that, now that the wildflowers are established, I never water.
Find a neighbor's kid who is looking to make a few bucks.
My yard is .72 acres and I pay $45/mow, for professional service. I have bermuda grass, so it doesn't need to be cut frequently.
Whatever you do, don't make it an eye sore that can drive down the neighbor's property values. Makes for a not fun neighborhood.
There are lots of solutions to this challenge, it just depends on what you want to look at out the window. Kudos to you for thinking of alternatives. Mowing is such a waste of energy in my book, especially when there are so many other nicer alternatives.
For flowers and things like that, it can take a bit to set it up and get it going, but after a few years, the result is beautiful and very low maintenance. I'm working towards that here, and we add/rehab about one bed per year, the first year is mostly establishing the boundaries, and keeping it heavily mulched and the weeds down (currently behind on that chore), and then the next year I start working with the plants. We have a lot of trees in our front yard, so my goal is to add beds around the trees so that it is easier to mow (beds with curves so the mower can move around easily) and not have to worry about bumping our mower (it's a small tractor, and has a roll bar, which sticks up), and to provide a habitat that supports birds and bees. We have a couple slopes that aren't easy to maintain, and I want to turn them into beds with lots of flowers as well.
It's a slow process, but I'm looking forward to the result in a few years!