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3 Things To Grow In Your Yard Instead Of Grass

3 Things To Grow In Your Yard Instead Of Grass

You wouldn’t know it by the foot of snow falling outside my window, but Colorado is in the midst of a drought right now. In fact, there are few places in the United States that haven’t been affected by drought in the past year.

To help conserve dwindling freshwater resources many states, including my own, have already enacted summer watering bans. Where I live in Denver, residents are only permitted to water their lawns twice a week, on days specified according to their neighborhood.

This restriction causes some to complain, horrified by the fact that they might sport a less-than-bright-green grass lawn. To these people I say, bah-humbug. Don’t they realize that having water to drink is far more important than feeding a completely useless grass lawn?

Nevertheless, I understand that no one wants to walk out their front door into a dust bowl, or worse, gravel (I’ve seen this option employed many times here in the Wild West, and it ain’t pretty). Here’s the thing: you can be the envy of your neighbors without wasting huge amounts of water on something as stupid as grass.

Check out these three awesome alternatives that you won’t have to mow, fertilize, or water nearly as much.

1. Food

edible landscaping

Thanks to climate change and the industrial agricultural system, food prices are sky high and show no signs of coming down. Growing food is an easy and immediate way to combat high prices, as well as the GMOs, pesticides and other nasty stuff running amok in our food system. If you’ve only got so much water to go around, why waste it on inedible grass when you could be growing delicious organic food?! Edible landscaping is a fast-growing trend, and even if you don’t have the time or know-how to convert your boring yard into a vibrant garden, there are lots of services that will do it for you.

Learn more:

The Incredible Edible Forest
In London, You Can Eat The Bust Stop
Indoor/Outdoor Edible Lanscaping
18 Beautiful Edible Landscaping Plants


2. Groundcover

alyssum groundcover

Groundcover plants are those which spread across the ground but do not grow tall, so no mowing is required. Areas planted in groundcover need little to no maintenance. They enhance the soil by acting as a mulch, and some groundcovers are nitrogen-fixing. Most, like the Alyssum pictured above, are flowering so they help to attract and feed pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Learn More:

Groundcover Plants: 7 Easy Alternatives To Grass
Two Groundcovers: One for Wet, One for Dry
Two Easy Groundcovers You Can Grow


3. Xeriscape


We’ve already pointed out that water is quickly becoming a precious resource here in America. But you wouldn’t know it by watching how easily we waste it. In North America alone, over 50 percent of residential water (that’s fresh, usually drinkable water) is used on landscaping and lawns. Xeriscaping uses native, typically drought-resistant plants and grasses to reduce landscape water use by 50 – 75 percent while still giving passers by something lovely to look at. Xeriscaped areas require very little watering and almost no weeding or other maintenance.

Learn More:

How To Go Green: Water
5 Problem-Solving Plants
Eco-Friendly Native California Landscaping


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Images via dyogi, joeshlabotnikJeremy Levine Design

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10:40AM PST on Feb 13, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

12:21PM PDT on Aug 13, 2013

good info!!!

11:25AM PDT on Jun 12, 2013

great ideas! esp food!

2:39AM PDT on May 13, 2013


1:25PM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

I hope the 5% who can't live without a lawn move somewhere rain is sufficient watering.

8:03PM PDT on Apr 27, 2013


5:56AM PDT on Apr 26, 2013


3:52PM PDT on Apr 25, 2013


3:24PM PDT on Apr 25, 2013

Good ideas.
#4 rated pea stone works great also and never needs watering and looks good

9:22AM PDT on Apr 25, 2013

Great ideas, especially ground cover.

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