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Greener Alternatives to the Modern Lawn

Artificial turf makes a beautiful lawn.

Photo by iStock

What evolved into the modern lawn began as a status symbol, a green expanse that wealthy landowners could show off and brag about. In an age when farming was vital for survival, the idea that some people could afford to forgo food production and plant grass must have seemed preposterous, but it caught on.

The lawn became ubiquitous. Homeowners came to view the lawn as a sign of prosperity and pride, but now some are looking at the environmental impact.

The grasses planted in suburban lawns need lots of water and fertilizer, which can be terrible for the environment. In South Florida, fertilizers and other chemicals run into the waterways and feed algae, which kill seagrass, the main source of food for manatees. Palms West Journal has covered the manatee problem extensively.

As water issues become an increasing concern in Palm Beach County and throughout Florida, many homeowners are looking for more useful and more environmentally friendly things to do with all that green space. Here are seven ways to transform your green space for a greener lifestyle:

1. Habitat for native grasses and plants — Your backyard can become a haven for wildlife, including colorful birds and beneficial insects. Planting native plants and flowers is a great alternative to the traditional lawn and is more attractive.

2. Garden space — Growing food beats mowing grass any day, and planting a garden is one of the best things you can do to transform your lawn into something more useful. You can team up with the neighbors to create a gardening co-op, coordinating to grow different plants and share in the harvest.

3. Pasture for hobby farmers — This one will not work if you live in the city or the suburbs, but the rural residents of Palms West could transform their lawns into pasture space for cattle, pigs and other livestock. Hobby farming is a great way to grow healthier food, and the animals themselves fertilize the pasture and improve the soil.

4. Flower beds — Turn your lawn into a field of flowers, and you can harvest the flowers, use them in bouquets, or even sell them to stores and other homeowners.

5. Succulent garden — Cacti and other succulents need little water, a prime consideration in a world of drought and climate change. A stunning succulent garden deals with water rationing and turns the lack of moisture into a benefit.

6. Artificial turf — If you love the look of a lawn but not the environmental damage, artificial turf is an alternative. You can find realistic grass alternatives with no mowing required.

7. Meditative Zen Garden — If you are looking for a place to relax after a stressful day, install a Zen garden. This calming space is free of grass but rich in natural materials such as sand and stones, so you can enjoy an oasis of peace in a chaotic world.

The lawn may be a staple of modern life, but it was not always. The modern lawn has a relatively short history, and you do not have to bow to those pressures to enjoy an environmentally sustainable outdoor living space. Each of these seven alternatives is better for the environment than a lawn, so choose your favorites and say goodbye to mowing.


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