Sure, lawns are a mainstay of most yards. Their history and associations with luxury date back to the 18th century. But times have changed, and the classic suburbia aesthetic isn’t what it once was. Are lawns still the right call for your yard?
What Actually is a Lawn?
Despite how we often think of it, grass isn’t just one plant. In the Pacific Northwest, most lawns are a mixture of fescue, a member of the flowering plant genus Festuca, and ryegrass, a member of the bluegrass subfamily.
The fescue offers a fine texture and lasts better in shade than other grasses. And varieties of ryegrass are able to withstand our rainy winters that decimate other grasses. For more information, check out this detailed breakdown from Oregon State University.
What Are the Advantages?
One good thing about lawns is that they’re durable. They will stand up well to traffic. That’s great if you have pets, or children, who need room to run around and play.
What Are the Downsides?
While many people force their lawn to be green during the summer with water and fertilizer, the mixture of plants that compose a lawn naturally goes dormant during the winter and summer.
While grass is dormant, it’s easy for weeds to take advantage and pop up. It is possible to try and fight this by mowing regularly when the lawn is still alive, causing it to grow thicker and close out weeds. If you want information and tips on how to maintain your lawn, check out our tips here.
Overall, despite being considered a low-maintenance option, grass ends up being a lot of work year-round to maintain properly.
What Are the Alternatives?
So, what else can you do to fill in that pesky dirt area in your yard?
The first question is what height you’re looking for.
Moss and thyme can provide a low-level cover, but they don’t stand up to traffic. They also run in to the same issues with weeds that you would with a regular lawn.
For something a little taller and more naturalistic than a regular lawn, there are pasture lawn mixes, which grow around 6 to 8 inches tall.
If you want to go in a different direction, you can get rid of the lawn space entirely and expand garden areas with more plants, living areas with hardscapes like patios, and play areas with cedar chips.
While adding more plants may sound like the type of work you’re trying to avoid by going with lawn space, we can install a low-maintenance, low-water planting bed that will end up being less work than a lawn truly ends up being.
Even lower maintenance is a gravel or patio area. They offer the flexibility and usability of lawn space, without the need for weeding or mowing. If you still want greenery, we can add planters and trellises, or a permeable patio with plantings throughout.
For a good middle ground between the two, try cedar chips. They are a great choice for areas that are shady and/or used by kids and dogs. Not only are they truly low maintenance and help prevent weed growth, they’re safer for trips, falls and other horseplay.
For a free consultation on what might be right for your yard, give us a call at 206-551-9872!